The words "gourmet meal" conjures up visions of snooty chefs and waiters in a snooty restaurant, with fancy, high-end ingredients like lobster and caviar and fancy upper-class recipes, like filet mignon, artfully arranged on a plate, garnished with the best of dressings and a very high bill to pay at the end of the meal. But the term "gourmet" is actually used to denote good rich food prepared with fresh ingredients. So no tin cans, no frozen ingredients and no short-cuts. At the same time, gourmet meals denote a certain class and panache. Instead of sandwiches, serve baguettes and panini. Instead of a sausage appetizer, how about using crab meat?
Using gourmet food and ingredients, one can prepare a gourmet meal at home, without paying through the nose or hiring a five-star chef? Yes, because in the art of cooking, anything low-end can be turned into high-end and vice versa. Below is a collection of simple and clear-cut recipes to make some tantalizing easy to make gourmet foods in your non-fancy kitchen.
Easy Gourmet Appetizers
- 2½ pounds asparagus, blanched and drained
- 2 sweet gherkins, chopped finely
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Pepper to taste
- In a small jar, mix the vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and oils well. Then cover jar and shake well.
- Lay the cooked asparagus in a shallow glass dish.
- Pour the dressing from the jar over the asparagus.
- Place the dish in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Turn the asparagus in the dish itself after half and hour and then at 45 minutes.
- Sprinkle chopped gherkins onto asparagus and serve chilled.
Crab Cakes with Aioli Sauce
- 16 ounces crab meat, canned or fresh
- 1 egg
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 lemon
- ¼ cup fresh dill
- ⅛ cup fresh parsley
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Thick hot sauce to season
- Salt and pepper
- In a mixing bowl, add crab meat and egg. Mix well.
- Chop the dill and parsley and add to the bowl.
- Sprinkle some salt and pepper to season the meat.
- Mix the ingredients well and form small cakes from the mixture.
- You should have 8 cakes. Roll cakes in breadcrumbs, coat each cake well.
- With the palm of your hand, flatten the cakes slightly and dust off excess crumbs.
- Heat a skillet at medium-high heat. Add butter and olive oil to the pan.
- Sauté the cakes in the pan on each side for 2 minutes. The cakes should turn light golden brown.
- To make the aioli (garlic mayonnaise), mince the garlic and mix well with mayonnaise, juice from ½ the lemon and Worcestershire sauce, in a bowl.
- Add hot sauce as desired to taste and mix well.
- While serving crab cakes, squeeze a little lemon juice on each cake.
Wonton Cups with Fig and Goat Cheese
- 12 wonton wrappers
- 3 ounces goat cheese, thawed
- 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons fig jam
- 1 sprig of thyme
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. In a cupcake pan, fill each cup with a wonton and bake for 7-9 minutes.
- Leave the wonton cups to cool.
- At medium heat, toast the chopped walnuts in a pan, till they are crunchy and warm and leave to cool.
- Once the wonton cups are cool, spoon some fig jam into the bottom of a cup.
- Add some goat cheese to the cup and garnish the cup with some toasted walnuts and a leaf of thyme.
- Do the same for all the wonton wrappers and serve.
Simple Gourmet Dinners
Grilled Shrimp with Herb Sauce
Grilled Shrimp Ingredients
- 1½ pounds large shrimp, not peeled and uncooked
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper, dried and crushed finely
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon lemon peel, grated
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup salt
- 1 quart water
- 2 cloves garlic, cut ¼ inch of the top of the clove
- 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- 1⅔ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons caper, drained
- 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
Preparing the sauce
- Preheat an oven to 375°F. In a baking dish, place garlic heads.
- Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the heads and cover dish with foil.
- Roast garlic till it turns tender, for 1 hour. Leave to cool.
- Squeeze out the garlic from its skin and mash flesh with a fork.
- To a food processor, add parsley, anchovy, capers, basil, garlic and lemon peel.
- Start the machine and blend in ⅔ cup olive oil gradually.
- Season paste with salt and pepper.
Making the shrimp
- Mix brown sugar, salt and water in a bowl and stir till the sugar dissolves.
- Add shrimp to mix and refrigerate bowl for 1-3 hours.
- Wash and rinse the shrimp.
- Cut shrimp shells along the center of their back, all the way down to their tails.
- Then cut shrimp along its full length of the back, remove the vein, pull their legs off and open the shrimp.
- In a medium bowl, whisk olive oil, garlic, parsley, wine and red pepper.
- Add the shrimp and mix well. Let it stand for 30 minutes.
- Prepare grill at medium-high heat and grill the shrimp, 2 minutes per side. Serve shrimp with garlic sauce.
Baked Tofu with Sesame
- 1 pound tofu, firm and pressed
- 1 tablespoon ginger root, grated
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
- ⅛ cup tamari
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- Cut the tofu into small cubes.
- In a bowl, stir the oil, tamari, ginger and some water to form a paste.
- Pour paste over tofu, leave to marinate for 7 hours or overnight.
- In a baking dish, place marinated tofu and sprinkle sesame seeds to garnish.
- Bake tofu in oven at 350°F for 1 hour.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
- 4 chicken breast halves, skinned and boneless
- 4 slices cooked ham
- 6 slices Swiss cheese
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a baking dish by spraying non-stick cooking spray in it.
- Pound the chicken breasts, till they are just ¼ inch thick.
- Liberally garnish each breast with salt and pepper on each side.
- Place 1 cheese slice on 1 breast.
- Roll breast in a slice of ham and fasten it with toothpick.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the chicken breasts in baking dish.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, such that the chicken is brown.
Delicious and Easy Gourmet Desserts
- 1 pint strawberries
- 1 pint blueberries
- ½ pint blackberries
- ½ pint raspberries
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cup water
- Wash and hull strawberries. Slice each into half. Place it in a large bowl.
- Wash blueberries, blackberries and raspberries and add to the bowl.
- In a small saucepan, mix water, sugar and vanilla extract.
- Bring the mixture to simmer at medium heat and let it cook till the sugar dissolves.
- Once cooked, pour this syrup over berries and leave it to cool. Serve immediately.
Victoria Sandwich Cake
- 4 large eggs
- 8 oz self-raising flour, sifted
- 8 oz butter, softened
- 8 oz caster sugar
- 6 tablespoons strawberry jam
- 10 fl oz heavy/double cream, whipped lightly
- 1 knob butter
- Icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using the knob of butter, grease two 6-7 inch cake tins.
- Line the bottom of the tins with greaseproof paper.
- In a bowl, mix butter and sugar using a whisk or a spoon. The mix should be creamy and white and airy.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time. If the mixture curdles, then add a tablespoon of flour.
- Fold in flour, using a metal spoon. Do not over-mix the paste.
- Divide this mixture, between the 2 cake tins.
- Bake cakes for 20 minutes. They should spring back when touched and will be pale golden in color.
- Remove tins from the oven and take out the cakes after 5-10 minutes. Leave them to cool for ½ hour.
- Spread jam on one cake and the whipped cream on the other. Sandwich the 2 cakes together.
- Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve.
The above easy to make gourmet recipes are arranged in the order of appetizers, main entries and desserts, so one can plan an entire gourmet menu. So whip out your chef's hat, arrange your ingredients and begin whipping up your gourmet masterpiece!