New video series: The $15 Gourmet

Welcome to a delicious new WalletPop video series: The $15 Gourmet.

If you're like us, you love the TV cooking shows, but you can't always repeat the recipes at home. They often use ingredients that are too expensive, too hard to find, or they take too much prep time.

So WalletPop is doing the work for you. We're asking the world's greatest chefs to put their expertise to work for you and devise dishes for two that are easy to make and inexpensive to prepare, but without sacrificing restaurant-quality flavors. Where a pricey ingredient might stress your budget, WalletPop's savvy chefs know the right ingredients to replace it, bringing sublime, cleanly prepared meals within your reach.

The $15 Gourmet's first guest is Chef Tony Singh, born and bred in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and the chef-owner of Tony's Table, Ugly Bread Bakery (which prepares his signature "ugly bread"), and his flagship restaurant, Oloroso, which has stunning rooftop views of the famous Edinburgh Castle.

Singh came to New York City to celebrate National Tartan Day for Scotland Week, the annual global tourism festival (this year, April 3 to 10) put on by Visit Scotland, the official Scottish tourism booster. Scotland has marked this year the Year of Food and Drink to show people that contrary to culinary clichés, Scotland is, in fact, rich with fresh foods and skilled chefs.

Singh joined WalletPop's Jason Cochran at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan to prepare our maiden dish: Roast Mackerel with Tattie Scones and Salsa Verde.

What? A healthy dish? Forget what you think you know about Scottish food. There's no haggis here. Instead, tattie scones (potato scones) are a nod to the traditional cuisine of Scotland, where they're a popular form of potato pancake and a common fixture on the breakfast plate. In WalletPop's $15 dish (that's based on New York City prices -- your outlay is bound to be even less), they balance give the dish with a starch that soaks up the rich flavors from the two sauces you'll be making, quickly and easily.

Singh crafted the menu with WalletPop in mind. He substituted an original choice, scallops, with mackerel, which costs less. You're got getting a poor cousin, though. Singh, who wouldn't cook anything he wouldn't eat himself, firmly believes mackerel has an unfairly low reputation because of its price.

While Singh usually makes his salsa verde with mint sauce or mint jelly, those items are expensive or hard to find in the United States, or they're made with junk food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. So he tweaked the recipe to make the sauce bold without it.

You may watch those TV food segments and wonder if the final dishes really taste as good as the hosts say they do. Well, Jason and the WalletPop film crew can vouch for Chef Singh: It tastes incredible. As soon as the cameras were turned off, we devoured the two final dishes in about four minutes.

Ingredients you'll need to buy:

4 x 3.5 ounce portions of mackerel, filleted and pine boned (this is the meat from one average-sized mackerel)
1 serving tomato compote (17.5 ounces of peeled plum tomatoes, cooked slowly to a pulp with butter and sugar to taste)
4 tbsp fine semolina (you can use cornmeal instead)
Fresh basil (for the salsa verde)
3 tbsp capers
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup cooked floury potato (such as a Russet; about two potatoes), thoroughly mashed

Ingredients you probably already have in your pantry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
Chopped chives (for the salsa verde)
Parsley (for the salsa verde)
4/5 cup butter, cubed
Vegetable oil or olive oil
1 medium egg
Freshly grated nutmeg
3 cloves garlic
Any fresh soft herbs, if you like

How to make it (the video shows how it's done):
1. Season up the Mackerel and put to one side

For the tattie scone:

2. Spread the mashed potato onto a baking tray. Mix the flour and the semolina together and use ¾ of this mixture to dust over the potatoes on the tray. Pour over the beaten egg. Add salt and pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to season. Mix together until it is a soft dough-like consistency. Do not overwork this mixture and if it appears to be too wet and sticky, adjust with some of the remaining flour and semolina mixture.
3. Roll out the mixture on to a well-floured surface to about 1cm thick and cut into 8 triangles measuring 10cm on their widest side. Add a little vegetable oil then a bit of butter to a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Carefully lift the cut scones and add to the pan, frying till golden on both sides.

Finishing up:

4. Warm up the compote and keep warm on stove side. 5. Heat up a non-stick frying pan add oil, when it smokes, place in the fish and cook until golden brown on one side - turn over just before you serve them on the tattie scone as they will continue to cook.
6. To plate, place a tattie scone on a hot plate, pop on some compote then arrange the scallops around this, put some more compote around the scone, then spoon round the salsa and serve.

Follow WalletPop's Jason Cochran on Facebook.
Read Full Story