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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shrimp Scampi and Vegetable Tossed Linguini

                        Shrimp Scampi and Vegetable Tossed Linguini
The photo does not do this dish justice.
I have tried lots of scampi recipes, over the years, in search of the right combination. This is the best one I have every tasted. It's a variation of the Barefoot Contessa's recipe. I cut back on the butter, and changed the herbs to suit my taste. I serve this with a vegetable tossed pasta, that reflects the flavor of the scampi.
I prepare the scampi, earlier in the day, then refrigerate, uncooked. I cook it when the pasta is almost ready. I like to bake it in a skillet. It's the perfect size, and is easy to transfer from the oven to the broiler. I bake the bread, just before I begin the pasta. I'm not much of a wine drinker, but a glass of pinot grigio was amazing with this.

Ingredients:
For the Scampi
2lbs. raw, medium shrimp-peeled and deveined
salt and pepper-to taste
3Tbl. dry white wine- I used pinot  grigio
1/2stick softened butter
2Tbl. minced garlic
1very small onion-minced
1Tbl. parsley
1/8tsp. cracked fennel
1/8tsp. basil
1/4tsp. pepper flakes
zest of 1 small lemon
juice from 1/2 of a lemon- I use the other half for the pasta dish

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 425*
Put the shrimp in a bowl. Salt and pepper, to taste, then add the wine and toss.
Let it marinate while you're making the herb butter.
Combine the rest of the ingredients, to make an herb butter.
Arrange the shrimp in the skillet.( photo below), and pour the remaining marinade over them.
Crumble the herb butter over the shrimp.
Bake 12 minutes, then transfer it to the broiler. Broil 1 or 2  minutes to brown lightly.

For the Vegetable tossed pasta:
1lb. fettuccine
1/2 stick of butter
1tsp. minced garlic
1/4tsp. cracked fennel
1/4tsp. basil
1Tbl. dried parsley
juice from half of a lemon
I green bell pepper- thin sliced, then halve the slices
1red onion- thin sliced, then halve the slices
2 portabella mushrooms-cut up
2Tbl. dry white wine
salt and pepper-to taste
1/4cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:
Begin cooking the pasta, according to package directions.
Once you have added the pasta to the boiling water, cook the vegetables.
In a skillet, melt the butter, add the garlic, herbs, and lemon juice.
Add the bell pepper and onion, and saute until the peppers are beginning to soften.
This is when I start cooking the scampi.
Add the mushrooms, and saute until they sweat.
Add the wine and cook 1 minute more. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn the burner off.
Drain the pasta. Add the Parmesan to the vegetables, toss. Add the drained pasta, and toss well, to coat.

For the Soft herbed mini loaves
1 recipe of soft parmesan garlic sourdough bread
Allow the dough to rise until double, shape into 14 mini loaves, smother with the herb butter, let rise again, and bake until lightly browned.

     Salt and pepper the shrimp, add the wine and marinate a few minutes.

                                       Combine the herb butter.
   Arrange the shrimp in a skillet, pour the remaining marinade over them.

Crumble the herb butter, over the shrimp, refrigerate until ready to bake.







Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tamale Pie

                                                     Tamale Pie

The filling is like a cross between Picadillo and my Chili dog sauce .  This does have bite to it, but only mildly hot. This is great topped with sour cream, and served with salsa cruda and cold cantaloupe. If you don't like cornbread, you will not like this dish.

For the filling:
1lb. ground chuck
2 onions-minced
4oz. can of green chilies
3tsp. garlic powder
2tsp. white vinegar
2Tbl. chili powder
1Tbl.ground chipotle powder
1/2tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1tsp. dark chocolate cocoa powder
1/4tsp. cayenne
1/4tsp. black pepper
1/2tsp. oregano
1/2tsp. molasses
1tsp. sugar
1-1/2tsp cumin
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3-1/2 Tbl. tomato paste
2cups frozen corn
3cups water

For the crust:
 2 cups of yellow cornmeal-ground into a flour in a food processor
1tsp. salt
8oz. shredded sharp cheddar-divided
sour cream
1/2cup chicken broth
1tsp. baking powder

Preparation:
Brown the ground chuck and onion, drain. (I use a wire potato masher to chop it as it's cooking, which breaks it up, very fine) or run it through a food processor after draining.
Put the beef back in the pan, and add all other ingredients.
Stir to combine, and simmer, on low, about 1-1/2 to 2 hrs. chopping with the potato masher occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, and you have a somewhat thick sauce.
Preheat the oven to 375*
For the crust, combine the cornflour and salt, toss in 1 cup of the cheese. Work in the sour cream, with you fingers, until it's crumbly. Add the chicken broth, combine into a dough, adding a bit more broth if necessary.
Split the dough into two pieces, press one of the pieces evenly into the bottom, and sides, of a pie pan.
Pour the filling into the pie pan, and crumble the remaining dough, over the filling. Press lightly to flatten the topping, just a bit.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, top the pie with the remaining cheese. Bake an additional 30 minutes. Allow it to cool 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with a large dollop of sour cream.

     The dough should be the texture of pie crust, just slightly crumbly.

        Press half of the dough, into the bottom and sides, of a pie pan.

Pour the filling into the crust, then crumble the remaining dough, over the filling.

       Press the topping, lightly, to flatten it a bit, then bake 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, and top with the remaining cheese. Bake an additional 30 minutes.

                             Allow it to cool 10 minutes, before slicing.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Pork, Shrimp and Vegetable Egg Rolls

                              Pork, Shrimp and Vegetable Egg Rolls

The thing these people put me through. This recipe will make close to 40 egg rolls, and I'll be lucky if I find one, for a midnight snack
When I first started making my own egg rolls, about a million years ago, I served them as a side, for Asian dishes, like normal people. But my kids, loved them so much, they talked me into making them, as the main course, or more aptly, the only course. I still serve them that way, to this day. These aren't like the ones you get at the restaurant, there's not a lot of cabbage, but a really good combination of meats and vegetables.
I have to make so many of these, that I need help rolling them. So I have an assembly line, They roll, I fry. If you're cooking alone, Its best if you roll about a dozen or so, fry them, then roll more etc... otherwise the wrappers will get soggy, before you get a chance to fry them. You could also, roll them in wonton wrappers, for miniature egg rolls, they make perfect little appetizers, for a get-together, served with Chunky sweet and sour sauce  That has been pureed.
Here's the recipe Aaron.

Ingredients
1Tbl.-plus-1Tbl. oil
1lb. ground pork
1/4tsp. black pepper
1lb. raw shrimp-peeled, de-veined, and chopped
1Tbl. minced garlic
3 ribs of celery -finely chopped
1 red bell pepper-finely chopped
1small onion-finely diced
8oz. fresh mushrooms-chopped
2/3 of a large head of Napa cabbage (also known as celery cabbage or Chinese cabbage) -finely shredded
1Tbl. cornstarch
2 packages egg roll wrappers
2 eggs beaten
oil for frying -peanut oil tastes best, corn oil is my second choice.

Preparation:
Heat 1Tbl. oil in a wok or large pan. Add the garlic, black pepper, and pork, fry and chop very fine, until cooked through.
Add the shrimp and stir-fry until the shrimp turns pink.
Put a colander over a bowl, dump the meat into the colander, set aside. Reserve broth.
Heat another Tbl. of oil in the wok, add the celery, onion, and bell pepper.
Stir fry until the celery is crisp tender. Add the Mushrooms and fry 1 minute more.
Remove 1/4cup of the reserved broth, add 1Tbl. cornstarch, mix to dissolve. set aside.
Add the cabbage, and the rest of the meat broth from the bowl.(Don't worry, it looks like a lot of cabbage, but it cooks down, very quickly.)
Cook, tossing until the cabbage has wilted. About 3-4 minutes.
Add the pork mixture and the cornstarch mixture. Cook until heated through, and the cornstarch thickens a bit.
Dump everything into a colander over a bowl, and cool completely before rolling.
Here's a cute tutorial-How to roll an egg roll.
Add about 3Tbl, of the filling to an egg roll skin. Moisten the edges with the beaten egg, so it will stick together. Roll,  then fry until golden brown. I fry mine in a 1quart pan, two at a time.
Serve hot with your favorite sauce. They reheat nicely in the microwave, but lose their crispness.

I shred about 2/3 of the cabbage, I stop, once I see more stem, than leaf. I save the bottom 1/3 to chop up in a stir-fry for another meal. The stem is really tender, and adds a nice flavor.


Fry the pork, garlic, black pepper, and shrimp. dump it in a colander, over a bowl, and set aside.

Fry the celery, bell pepper, and onion, until the celery is crisp tender. Add the mushrooms and cook 1 minute more.

Add the cabbage and remaining reserved broth. It looks like a lot, but it wilts, down to almost nothing.

                             Cook, tossing until the cabbage wilts.

Add the pork mixture and the cornstarch mixture, to the pan and cook until heated through, and the cornstarch thickens a bit.

Dump everything into a colander, over a bowl. Cool completely before rolling. Once it has cooled, I press it, to release a bit more moisture, so the wrapper doesn't get soggy.

Brush egg-wash on the edges of the wrapper, add about 3Tbl. of filling, and roll. Actually I put the filling in the middle, it should be a bit closer to the bottom.

                                         Fry until golden brown.





Sunday, August 26, 2012

Grow your own culinary ginger

Ginger (zingiber officinale) Photo ,that you buy in the produce section of your grocer, is a live rhizome, that can easily be grown. It becomes a tall bamboo-like plant, that is really tough, and can take a lot of abuse. The root grows very similar to an iris, sending out nodes, and spreads, fairly rapidly, filling the pot. They can be removed, with a knife, and washed. You now have a constant supply of ginger. I once had one, that filled an 8" pot, it made a pretty plant for one corner of my living room.
Leave the root at room temperature for about 1 week, then you will notice little eyes begin to sprout. This tiny piece has two.

Plant the root shallowly in at least a 4" pot, laying it flat, leaving the top exposed. The rhizome will creep along the surface. treat it like any other houseplant, watering when it looks a bit dry.

                                              After 2 weeks.


Bacon Wrapped Rock Cornish Game Hens with a Persian Fruit and Nut Stuffing

 Bacon Wrapped Rock Cornish Game Hens with a Persian Fruit and Nut Stuffing- served with country green beans

Dried fruit, and nut stuffing is used throughout the Middle East , particularly Iran. The marinade, and bacon for the hen, is an alteration I made, I think it's a nice addition, to this traditional dish. The Persians use dried barberries, in addition to the other fruits. It can be made with, or without rice. I use the leftover, citrus juice to make Frozen raspberry margaritas . This combination is one of my favorite meals.

For the marinade:
4 Rock Cornish game hens-thawed
zest of 1 orange
zest of one lime
zest of 1 lemon
2tsp.minced garlic
1Tbl. olive oil
Combine the zest, garlic and oil. Rub the mixture over the hens and refrigerate, at least 2 hours, or overnight.

For the stuffing:
1Tbl oil
1small onion-diced
2Tbl. chopped pistachios
1Tbl. chopped walnuts
6 dried apricots- chopped
5 dried prunes-chopped
3Tbl dried cherries-chopped
1/4cup water
1Tbl. tomato paste
1cup cooked rice

You'll also need:
8 slices- thick sliced bacon
toothpicks

Preparation:
While the hens are marinating, make the stuffing.
Heat the oil in a skillet, add the onions, and fry until they are softened.
Add the fruit and nuts and fry a minute longer.
Add the water and tomato paste, and cook stirring a bit longer, until well blended.
Turn off the burner, and stir in the rice. Allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 375*
Stuff the hens with the rice mixture, then wrap two slices of bacon, around the mid-section, and secure with 2 toothpicks. Place the hens in a13x9 baking dish.
Bake 1hour at 375*, then turn the heat to 425* and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, or until cooked through , and beginning to brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and serve 1 hen per person.

Mix together the zests, garlic, and olive oil. Rub it on the hens. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours, or overnight.

    While the hens are marinating, make the stuffing, and allow to cool.

 Stuff the hens and wrap each in two slices of bacon, securing it with toothpicks. Bake at 375* for 1 hour, turn the heat to 425* and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, or until cooked through, and beginning to brown.






 

Frozen Raspberry Margarita

           Frozen Raspberry Margarita- Warning! These are very addictive!

Ingredients: Makes 3
1 cup frozen raspberries-thawed
2 shots of tequila
juice of 1/2 a lime
juice of 1/4 a lemon
juice of 1/4 an orange
1/4cup water
3Tbl. sugar
 2cups icecubes

Preparation:
Add everything, except the ice, to a blender, and puree about 1 minute. Add the ice, pulse a few times, to break it up, a bit, then blend until slushy.

Country Green Beans

Country Green Beans with Bacon wrapped rock cornish game hens and Persian fruit and nut stuffing

Ingredients:
2slices of bacon-chopped
1small onion-diced
3cups water
1lb. fresh green beans

Preparation:
In a 2quart pan, fry the bacon, until almost crisp.
Add the onions, and cook until they are soft.
Add the water and beans, and cook on medium, until they are crisp-tender and the water has evaporated. About 20 minutes.

Fudge Mint Torte

                                               Fudge Mint Torte
This is the same recipe I used for the Fudge and white chocolate raspberry Torte, with a few alterations. The torte is intensely chocolatey, in combination with the creamy, cool mint layer... it'll knock their socks off. This is a very rich dessert, almost cheesecake-like, that is best served in very thin slices.

For the flour-less fudge torte:
2 sticks of real butter
2tsp. dark chocolate cocoa powder
12oz. semisweet chocolate chips- (reserve 3 or 4 for garnish)
6eggs-seperated

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400*
Spray a 9inch spring-form pan with cooking spray.
Melt the butter, over a low flame. Whisk in the cocoa. Stir in the chocolate, until melted. Whisk in the egg yolks, cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute more. Set aside to cool completely. about 30 minutes.

Once the chocolate has cooled, beat the egg whites, until stiff peaks form. Fold gently, into the cooled chocolate, until well combined.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake 20 minutes. The center will still be jiggly, but it will continue to set as the cake cools. Place the pan, on a wire rack to cool completely. (more than an hour) Then refrigerate until firm. leaving the cake in the pan.(I make the cake the night before, and make the mint layer, the next day.)


For the mint layer:
1cup white chocolate chips
8oz. to16oz. whipping cream- (8oz. for a dense mousse, 16oz. for a fluffy mousse.)
1-1/2tsp. peppermint extract
6-8 drops green food coloring
8oz. cream cheese- softened
1/2cup confectioners sugar

Preparation:
Melt the chips with 3Tbl. of the whipping cream. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, peppermint extract, and food color, until fluffy, then beat in the confectioners sugar.
Add the melted chocolate, to the cream cheese and beat until well combined.
In another bowl, beat the remainder of the whipping cream, until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the whipped cream, into the cream cheese mixture, until well combined.
Remove the fudge torte, from the fridge, and spread the white chocolate layer, evenly over the cake. Refrigerate at least, 1 hour.
Remove the cake from the fridge. Grate the reserved chocolate chips, over the cake. Remove the sides, from the spring-form pan, and serve.

 For the cake: melt the butter, add the cocoa and chips, whisk until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the egg yolks, cook 1 minute longer. Set aside to cool completely.

   Once the chocolate has cooled, beat the egg whites, until stiff peaks form.


Gently fold the egg whites, into the chocolate, until well combined. Pour it into the prepared pan, and bake 20 minutes.

 The center of the cake will still be jiggly, when you remove it from the oven. Put the pan on a wire rack, and cool completely. Then put it in the fridge until firm. It will become very dense and fudgey. (about 2hrs.)

Make the mint layer, and spread it evenly over the chocolate layer. Refrigerate at least an hour.

Remove the pan from the fridge, and grate the reserved chocolate chips over the torte. Remove the sides from the spring-form pan and serve.






Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Baked Chicken Nuggets with French Fried Onion Breading

                     Chicken Nuggets with French Fried Onion Breading

These are really good. I once made 5lbs., for a large pot-luck... they were devoured in 15 minutes, and they were looking for more. They're very easy to make, because they're baked. (But taste fried.)
I've used them in place of fried chicken in Fried chicken salad. too.

Ingredients:
4 boneless chicken breasts-cut into chunks and thawed
1cup plain bread crumbs
1 small can of french fried onions- crushed very fine
1/4cup cornmeal
1tsp. basil - I leave out the basil sometimes, and use parsley instead
1/2tsp. onion powder
1/2tsp. garlic powder
1egg beaten
butter flavored cooking spray

Preparation;
Preheat the oven to 375*
Spray a baking pan with butter flavor cooking spray.
Whisk together the bread crumbs, crushed onions, cornmeal, basil, onion powder, and garlic powder. Set aside.
In a bowl, pour the egg over the cut-up chicken, and toss to coat.
roll, the chicken, a few at a time, in the breading, and place them on the baking pan. they can be placed close together, just not touching.
Spray the top of the chicken, with more butter flavor cooking spray, ( it keeps them from becoming dry.) and bake about 45 minutes, or until they are lightly crispy. Serve hot, as an appetizer or main course.

It's easier to cut-up the chicken, if it's still partially frozen. The baking time will depend, on how big you cut the nuggets. Once it has thawed, toss them in a beaten egg.

The french fried onions need to be crushed very fine, or it won't stick to the chicken.
                              They're great in Fried chicken salad.



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fudge and White Chocolate Raspberry Torte


 Fudge and White Chocolate Raspberry Torte -the chocolate layer is very moist and fudge-like, topped with a thick, white chocolate mousse, and a raspberry glaze.

Half of my life, I could not stand, anything raspberry, (except eating them off the vine, of course) But something magical happens, when you combine, dark chocolate, white chocolate and raspberries. Oh Good Lord! Now I use this combination a lot.
This dessert was originally from a recipe I found in a magazine, several years ago. The fudge torte part of the recipe, that it used, was kind of hit and miss, But I found a really stable version that I'm posting here. I can't remember the sources of the recipes, so I can't give them their dues. Over the past few years, dark chocolate has become widely available, so you could exchange it, for the semi-sweet chips, and leave out the cocoa. Although I haven't tested it yet.

For the flour-less fudge torte:
2 sticks of real butter
2tsp. dark chocolate cocoa powder
12oz. semisweet chocolate chips
6eggs-seperated

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400*
Spray a 9inch spring-form pan with cooking spray.
Melt the butter, over a low flame. Whisk in the cocoa. Stir in the chocolate, until melted. Whisk in the egg yolks, cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute more. Set aside to cool completely. about 30 minutes.

Once the chocolate has cooled, beat the egg whites, until stiff peaks form. Fold gently, into the cooled chocolate, until well combined.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake 20 minutes. The center will still be jiggly, but it will continue to set as the cake cools. Place the pan, on a wire rack to cool completely. (more than an hour) Then refrigerate until firm. leaving the cake in the pan.(I make the cake the night before, and make the white chocolate layer, the next day.)

For the White chocolate layer:
1cup white chocolate chips
8oz. to16oz. whipping cream- (8oz. for a dense mousse, 16oz. for a fluffy mousse.)
8oz. cream cheese- softened
1/3cup confectioners sugar


For the raspberry glaze:
Whisk together, 2Tbl. raspberry jam and 1tsp. hot water

Preparation:
Melt the chips with 3Tbl. of the whipping cream. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy, then beat in the confectioners sugar.
Add the melted chocolate, to the cream cheese and beat until well combined.
In another bowl, beat the remainder of the whipping cream, until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the whipped cream, into the cream cheese mixture, until well combined.
Remove the fudge torte, from the fridge, and spread the white chocolate layer, evenly over the cake.
Refrigerate at least, 1 hour. Make the glaze, and set aside.
Remove the cake from the fridge, and spread the glaze evenly,
Remove the sides, from the spring-form pan, and serve.

For the cake: melt the butter, add the cocoa and chips, whisk until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the egg yolks, cook 1 minute longer. Set aside to cool completely.

Once the chocolate has cooled, beat the egg whites, until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the egg whites, into the chocolate, until well combined. Pour it into the prepared pan, and bake 20 minutes.

The center of the cake will still be jiggly, when you remove it from the oven. Put the pan on a wire rack, and cool completely. Then put it in the fridge until firm. It will become very dense and fudgey. (about 2hrs.)

Make the white chocolate layer, and spread it evenly over the cake. Refrigerate at least an hour, or until the mousse becomes more firm.

Spread the raspberry glaze, over the center, and about an inch from the edge of the torte. Remove the sides of the spring-form pan, and serve.