Enjoy! Because life is too short to deprive the palate!

12.20.2010

Mini Caprese: Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Bites

Here's a quick and easy appetizer idea that takes minimal effort, looks dashingly sheik, and boasts the beautiful colors of Christmas! Not to mention, it's bite-sized and delicious, a perfect pairing for a Christmas Cocktail party. C'mon who doesn't love caprese?

Check out my other seasonal twist on Caprese Salad: Sliced Tomato Summer Salad


Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Bites
  • 1 pack Cherry Tomatoes (or however many you need to accommodate your guests!)
  • 1 wedge/package of Mozzarella Cheese
  • Several Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper (optional)
*Using a very sharp tomato knife (or serrated knife) cut a thin slice off the top of each cherry tomato. Using a melon baller or metal spoon, carefully scoop out the center of each cherry tomato; do not scrap the edges, only scoop out about 1/2 tsp from each tomato. Discard the centers.

*Carefully cut a very thin slice off the bottom of each tomato. This will allow them to stand up straight on your serving plate. 

*Next, slice the mozzarella into 1/4 inch or smaller squares and tuck them into the centers of the tomato.

*Using a very sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the basil leaves into long thin strips. Roll the strips up around themselves, and tuck them next to the mozzarella. 

*TO SERVE: Arrange the tomatoes on your platter or serving plate and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and a crack of fresh black pepper. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and wah-lah!

I made these caprese bites, as well as several other "tapas-style" fancy finger foods for my Christmas Party this past friday. I will be updating throughout the week with the recipes to the other goodies I prepared, so stay tuned!

Enjoy :]

<3 Marea

12.14.2010

Savory Eggs Benedict with Sautéed Arugula and Shallots- Daring Cook's December Challenge!

Breakfast for dinner is one of those rare yet decidedly delicious events in my household, and last night I saw it as the perfect way to serve up this month's Daring Cook's Challenge. 


"Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num."


While these kind ladies did provide us with recipes, the mandatory part of this month's challenge was the art of poaching an egg. I chose to forgo the recipe and cook up some eggs benedict the way I like it to taste. When out to breakfast, I'm always torn between the florentine and the classic benedict because I want the meat and the greens. So I decided that my recipe would definitely have both. One staple that is always in my refrigerator (and in my garden!) is arugula. I thought the delicate peppery flavor of these sautéed greens with a few slices of shallot and some butter would make a great addition to my benedict dish. 


Before we dive right into the recipe let's talk about "the art of poaching an egg", which for me, is definitely an art. There are a few factors that need to be set in place to procure the perfect poached egg. First of all, you need a skillet that will hold approximately 3 inches worth of water. Adding a pinch of salt and tsp of white vinegar to the water will help the whites harden more quickly and stay together better. Other tips include breaking the eggs into a shallow bowl or coffee cup to ensure that you do not crack the yolk, and also to make the process of pouring the egg into the water easier. I experimented with using a large deep spoon to ladle the egg into the water and found this technique worked best for me. Another trick is bringing the water to a boil and then reducing it to just under a boil before you add the eggs. And finally, gently swirling the water before adding each egg will help to keep the whites together. 


For this recipe you will need a double boiler or two saucepans that fit inside each other, a 3+inch deep skillet, a whisk, a frying pan, a large spoon or small bowl, a slotted spoon, and a good knife. 


Eggs Benedict with Sautéed Arugula and Shallots

  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 English Muffins, halved
  • 4 Slices Canadian Bacon 
  • A handful of Arugula Leaves
  • 1/2 Shallot, sliced
  • 1/2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • Hollandaise Sauce:
    • 3 Egg Yolks
    • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Chilled and cut into Tbsp.
    • Juice from 1/2 Lemon
    • 1/2 Tbsp Warm Water
    • 1 tsp Sugar
    • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder 
    • Cayenne, Salt and Pepper, to taste


*Begin by making your hollandaise sauce. Using a double boiler or two slightly different sized saucepans that can rest one inside the other, bring about 2 cups of water to a light boil. In the smaller saucepan whisk the egg yolks with the 1/2 Tbsp of water. Reduce the boiling water to a simmer and place the pan containing the yolks over the water (without touching the pan to the water!) and heat, whisking rapidly. As the yolks begin to thicken, squeeze in the lemon juice, whisking continually. 

*Whisk in the butter, one Tbsp at a time, allowing it to completely melt before adding the next Tbsp. As the yolks thicken and meld with the butter add the sugar and garlic powder. Continue whisking until all butter is added and melted. Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat, cover to keep warm, and set aside. 

*In a frying pan melt the 1/2 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the arugula and stir to coat with the butter and shallots. Sauté until arugula has wilted, about 1 minute, and then remove from heat. Cover to keep warm. 

*Return the frying pan to the stovetop and heat on high. Add the Canadian Bacon and cook, approximately 2 minutes on each side. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

*While the canadian bacon is cooking, fill your skillet with water 3 inches deep. Add a pinch of salt and a tsp of white vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce to just under boiling and add the eggs following the techniques mentioned above. Depending on how you prefer your yolks cook anywhere from 3-4 minutes. When finished remove your eggs from the water using a slotted spoon and place on a bed of paper towels to dry. Gently pat the edges the egg to remove any excess stray whites. 

*Slice the english muffins into two pieces and toast. I toasted mine in the oven under high broil. 
 
*Serves 2-4 People*


Someone else thought it looked mighty good too!
TO SERVE: To assemble the benedict place your toasted english muffin halves on the plate and top with one slice of canadian bacon each. Spoon the shallots and arugula over the bacon and top each with one poached egg. Drizzle with the hollandaise sauce and finish with a pinch of cayenne and black pepper. Wah-lah!
I served our benedicts open-faced with a side of pan-fried red potatoes and garnished with thin slices of green onions. 


One big Holiday tradition for our family is good food; Christmas morning, after we've opened all our presents, we start the day off strong with a benedict breakfast. Thanks to this month's Daring Cook's Challenge, I will have the most perfectly poached eggs!


Enjoy :] 


<3Marea 

12.10.2010

Grilled Hanger Steaks, Caramelized Shallots, & Matchstick Frites with a White Truffle Aioli

For a recent dinner party I wanted to put a classy twist on a classic dish: steak and fries. I wanted a layout that would satiate grown men with hearty appetites but still be delicate and classy for us ladies. After experimenting with my marinade and taking a pairing inspiration from a recipe for Steak and Fries by Martha Stewart, I found a perfect combo - a meal which boasts full palate pleasing flavors and will make a stunning spread for guests.

I found a nifty peeler to julienne vegetables (Safeway- $4 and comes in various colors!) and thought I'd put it to the test making matchstick "frites", which is so much more fun to say than fries, right?! The key is getting them perfectly crispy so they provide that wonderful crunch!

For this recipe you will need a sauté pan, grill pan, baking sheet lined with tin foil, a julienne peeler or mandoline (optional), and a whisk.  




Grilled Hanger Steaks & Caramelized Shallots
  • 1 1/2 lb Hanger Steak
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil- For Marinade+ 4 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided (For Cooking)
  • 1/4 Cup Sherry Vinegar 
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Pressed
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • Cayenne
  • 5 Medium Shallots, halved
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
*Begin by rubbing down the hanger steak with salt, pepper, and cayenne (to your heat preference!). In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup Olive Oil, Sherry, Garlic, Dijon, Worcestershire, and Soy. In a large tupperware, lay out the steak and coat it with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2+ hours. 

*About 20 minutes before the steak has finished marinating, you will want to begin caramelizing your shallots. In a sauté pan heat 2 Tbsp of oil on medium-high. Toss the shallots with the sugar and add to the pan, cooking 2-3 minutes. Shake the pan or stir frequently to ensure even cooking. Add a pinch of salt to speed up the process and season the shallots. Reduce to medium-low, and cook slowly, adding water in 1/4 cup batches as the shallots turn golden. This is called "deglazing" and the water should evaporate quickly while the onions soften and caramelize. This process can take 30-40 minutes. 

*In a grill pan, heat the final 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil over medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook, 10-12 minutes on each side. Baste with any remaining marinade and season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Tent with foil when finished cooking, and let sit for ten minutes. 


Matchstick Frites with a White Truffle Aioli 
  • 2 Large Russet Potatoes, peeled
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp White Truffle Oil
For the Aioli:

  • 3 Tbsp White Truffle Oil
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Pinch of: Sea Salt, White Pepper, Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
*Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

*Either using a Julienne Peeler, mandoline, or a very sharp knife, julienne the potatoes into extremely thin, long strips. Toss them with sea salt, and a tsp of white truffle oil and spread them out evenly on a tin-foiled baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake, tossing them frequently and turning the pan to ensure even browning. Let bake for 20 minutes. If you find that your potatoes are not cooking evenly, or are not crisping up enough, broil them on high for 2-3 minutes at the end. 

*In a small bowl, combine the truffle oil and the mayonnaise for the aioli, whisking the oil into the mayonnaise slowly to make an emulsion. Add the remaining ingredients and season to taste. 


*Serves 4-6 people

To Serve: Try to time your frites and steaks so that they will finish in the same general time frame. If needed, reheat your shallots. Using a very sharp knife, slice the hanger steaks, being sure to not cut against the grain (I made this mistake the first time I cooked these steaks and while it was still delicious, the meat was very chewy and tougher than it should have been!) 

Prepare your plates with slices of steak, a garnish of frites, and a dollop of aioli. Pair with a small salad, such as greens topped with cherry and sunburst tomatoes, and tossed with a light vinaigrette.  

Wine Pairings: My lovely friend Rachel brought a bottle of Pinot Noir which was absolutely delightful with the flavors in the meat and goes well with grilled meats. I would also recommend a Syrah which pairs quite nicely with red meats and herbed sauces. 

This meal makes a lovely addition to any winter menu. 

Enjoy :]

<3Marea

Linking this post to Friday Potluck #13 @ EkatsKitchen 


12.02.2010

Homemade Chicken Pot Pies

Another cold weather favorite and definite comfort food for me has always been Chicken Pot Pie. This recipe is fairly simple and can be pre-made and frozen, and then baked at a later date. Also, the ingredients are ones you may already have in your pantry and freezer, or ones that you can buy and store ahead of time, which makes this meal good for a midweek, low-key dinner. Plus, if you are cooking for a couple or a small family, this recipe ensures leftovers, which are absolutely delicious for lunch the next day. Of course, if you still have Thanksgiving Turkey leftovers, sub them in! Delicious!

For this recipe you will need: 1- 9inch round Baking Dish, Pie Weights (optional), a Spatula, a Medium Mixing Bowl, Measuring cups and spoons, Wooden Spoon, and a Medium-Sized Frying Pan. 
Chicken Pot Pies
  • 2 Cups or 2 Medium Chicken Breasts, rubbed down with:
    • Garlic Powder, Italian Spices, and Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
  • 2 Pre-Made or Homemade Pie Crusts (Recipe Here
  • 1/2 Vidalia Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Carrots
  • 1/2 Cup Peas, fresh or previously frozen
  • 1/2 Cup Corn, fresh or previously frozen
  • 1/2 Cup Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 Cup Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 Cup Cream
  • 1 bunch of Fresh Sage
  • Several Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
*Preheat your oven to 350 Degrees F.

*In a medium frying pan heat 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil over Medium High heat. Add the seasoned Chicken Breasts and increase heat to High. Cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan and cover. *Chicken should still be slightly pink in the center!*

*While your chicken is cooking, spray your baking dish with canola oil, and press one crust into the bottom and up the edges of the dish. If using, place pie weights on top of bottom crust. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside, but leave oven on.

*In the same pan that you used for the chicken, add the other Tbsp of Olive Oil and heat on Medium High. Stir in the diced onions and cook for 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Stir in the carrots, peas, and corn, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. 

*In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Pour over the vegetable mixture in the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. 

*While the Vegetable mix is simmering, uncover the chicken and dice into 1/4 inch chunks. Add to the mixture and simmer for another 1 minute. 

*Pour the mixture into your previously baked pie crust and cover with the top crust. Using your fingers, pinch the top crust into the edges of the bottom crust to seal. Return to your preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes, until top crust is golden brown. 

*Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes. Slice and serve hot.

I chose not to add any additional salt as the Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken Soups tend to run fairly salty, but feel free to use your own palate and season to your taste bud's delight! If freezing, skip the 35 minutes of baking time, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer until you are ready to bake and eat.

Enjoy :]

<3 Marea

Linking up to Friday Potluck @ EkatsKitchen.com

11.28.2010

After-Thanksgiving Turkey & Mashed Potato Croquettes

'Tis the season for Turkey! While turkey soup and cranberry turkey sandwiches are a definite must-make, I also like to get a little creative with my Thanksgiving leftovers.

So for Seasonal Sunday this week I present: Turkey and Mashed Potato Croquettes; blending all your Thanksgiving favorites into one deliciously crunchy morsel. Paired with gravy, sour cream, or homemade cranberry sauce, these savory croquettes are fun, simple, and serve up a nice spin on your holiday extras.

For this recipe you will need a food processor or chopper, a large, deep frying pan, small sauce pan, whisk, 1 sheet of wax paper, a cookie sheet, and a slotted spoon.

Turkey & Mashed Potato Croquettes 
*Filling:
  • 1 1/2 Cups Turkey, finely minced in a food processor
  • 1/2 Cup Stuffing, finely minced in a food processor with:
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 2 Tbsp Cilantro
  • 1 Cup Mashed Potatoes 
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onions, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 3 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour, divided
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
*In a food processor, combine turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and garlic. Pulse lightly and then transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with italian seasoning and black pepper. Set aside. 

*In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and one Tbsp of flour, stir to coat. Cook for 2 minutes, adding the second Tbsp of flour after one minute. Pour in the chicken broth and milk, and turn up the heat. Add the garlic powder and bring to a light boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer. Stir in the final Tbsp of flour and allow to thicken for approximately two minutes. Remove from heat.

*Combine the flour mixture with the turkey mixture. Blend thoroughly. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed (the saltiness of your stuffing, mashed potatoes, and turkey will vary from person to person). Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. 

*Coating:
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Corn Meal
  • 2 Cups Herbed Breadcrumbs, finely ground
  • 2 large Eggs, whisked with 1 Tbsp cold Milk
  • Wax Paper Lined Cookie Sheet
*On a large plate combine the flour and corn meal and spread out to cover the surface of the plate. On another plate, spread out 1 cup of the bread crumbs. In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk. 

*Remove the turkey mixture from the refrigerator and scoop out in 1/4 cup intervals, shaping into rounds. (This will be messy and sticky!) Dredge the rounds in the flour mixture, coating all sides and then dip into the egg mixture. Shake lightly to remove any excess egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs, patting them into the turkey round, to form a thick shell. Set on a wax paper lined cookie sheet.  

*Repeat until all croquettes are formed. Let sit, uncovered in the refrigerator, for 1 hour. 

Cooking the Croquettes:
  • Canola Oil, for frying
  • Large, Deep Frying Pan
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Paper Towels, for Drying
*Pour the canola oil into your frying pan, approximately 1/4 inch deep. Heat for 5-8 minutes, or until temperature reaches 370 degrees F. Cook the croquettes in batches, being sure not to overcrowd the pan, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on a bed of paper towels. 

*Makes 8 Large Croquettes

To Serve: Serve the croquettes immediately drizzled with hot leftover gravy, a side of sour cream, and/or topped with cranberry sauce. Pair with a light salad or with a cold side of my Gingered Butternut Squash Soup

With a crispy crunchy shell on the outside, and a creamy savory Thanksgiving twist on the inside, these Turkey and Mashed Potato Croquettes are a great way to reinvent your typical holiday leftovers. 

Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving as much as I did! Now onto Christmas! 


Enjoy :]


<3 Marea

Linking up to The Friday Potluck @ Ekatskitchen.com



Turkey Breast- صدر الديك الرومي- صدر الحبش

11.16.2010

November's Daring Cook's Challenge: Soufflés!!

I've been so excited about participating in The Daring Kitchen-- and then I go and miss the post date!!! Alas, here is my lovely November Daring Cook's Challenge- still delicious even two days late.

Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided many of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.

After much research on various methods, I chose to create a savory soufflé using my utmost favorite ingredient: GARLIC. My Roasted Garlic and 3 Cheese Soufflé, which, after a few small tweaks to the flavor, came out absolutely beautifully! The process is fairly tedious but it helps if you create a clean and organized mise en place- plan, gather, and pre-prep. A key to a good soufflé is cooking in a state of constant readiness; this includes the guests! The best part of the soufflé is its glorious moment when it first emerges from the oven, that brilliant rise which every mouth must witness! Even on my second run I wasn't able to capture the full rise in time *ahem, Santa Claus please bring me a better camera pretty please? :]

To complete this recipe you will need: An electric mixer, whisk, saucepan with lid, skillet, and a deep 9-inch glass dish, or 7-8 oven-proof ramekins, or soufflé cups.


Roasted Garlic & 3 Cheese Soufflé

  • 3 Whole Garlic Cloves, tops cut off
  • 3 additional cloves, pressed
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 1/2 cups Milk
  • 1/2 large Vidalia Onion
  • 3 Thyme Sprigs
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 cup Herbed Bread Crumbs, finely ground
  • 5 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Large Eggs, separated, plus 4 Additional Egg Whites (room temperature!)
  • 1 Cup Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 1/4 tsp Apple Pie Spice
  • 1 Cup Aged Swiss Cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 Cup Beemster Cow's Milk Cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Crystal Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • Canola Oil Spray
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Fresh Sourdough for serving



*Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bundle the whole garlic cloves in tin foil and drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap to seal and place in the oven for 1 hour. When finished roasting, uncover and set aside to cool. At this time turn the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.


*In a saucepan, bring milk, pressed garlic, onion, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, and pepper to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes, covered.


*Lightly spray individual soufflé cups, or one large round 9 inch glass dish with canola oil. Add 2 Tbsp of Bread Crumbs to each individual dish, or 1/2 cup to the one glass dish. Shake to thoroughly coat the bottom. Set aside.


*In a skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, to create a thick roux. Let simmer, whisking frequently over low heat until lightly browned.


*Strain the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve and add the liquid to your roux. Bring to a soft boil and simmer, whisking frequently for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.


*Vigorously mix in the 4 egg yolks (8 egg whites have been set aside) one at a time. Squeeze the roasted garlic from its skins and add. Next whisk in the parmesan and apple pie spice plus 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper.


*In a standing mixer or large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.


*Fold in the swiss and beemster cheese to your roux and milk base, alternating between folding in 1/3 of the egg whites. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites and quickly transfer to your soufflé cups or dish. Smooth tops and sprinkle with italian seasoning.


*Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until fully risen and golden brown.

To Serve: Remove from the oven and serve immediately before the center falls, with warm fresh slices of sourdough or crackers. I served my soufflés as appetizers but they can definitely constitute a meal if paired with a light salad, such as a frisée.

Wine Pairings: I suggest pairing with an American Cabernet Sauvignon, such as 2005 Ravenswood Vitners Blend ($12 bottle) which boasts unusually soft tannins, with a more generously round and juicy taste. Also, to play off the flavors of the cheese, you may like to try a 2004 Domaine Lorache ($25) Chablis.

As my guests commented, this soufflé had a distinctly "Christmas-y" "holiday" feel (definitely due to the apple pie spice!) which provided for a warm, cheerful belly and a nice segue into my main course of hanger steaks and matchstick frites! This dish makes a nice edition to any winter menu.

Enjoy :]

<3 Marea

11.15.2010

Shrimp Tempura & Banana Roll with Coconut & a Sweet Chili Sauce

Despite my great love for Soup Season, my deepest foodie desire is, and always will be, Sushi. I've been experimenting in the kitchen with various roll combinations and as of late this tasty twist on shrimp tempura has emerged as my audience's favorite.

Shrimp is such a distinct yet mild seafood and I find it to be a great compliment for many fruit combinations. The sweetness of the banana pairs perfectly with the bite from the chili as the texture of the coconut flakes brings in a nice palatal variation from the softness of the rice and the fruit.

Be sure to check out my past post, Spicy Tuna Roll, Gingered Crab Roll, & Seared Ahi, for more roll ideas and an additional step-by-step guide to rolling and serving your homemade sushi. You will need a Large Wok or Deep-set, heavy Skillet to make the tempura.

Shrimp Tempura & Banana Roll
With Coconut & a Sweet Chili Sauce

*For the Shrimp Tempura:
  • 6 Jumbo Shrimp or Prawns, peeled & deveined but with tails on
  • 2 Tbsp Corn Starch
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Ice Water 
  • 1/4 tsp White Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 tsp Salt, divided and Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 2 Cups Vegetable Oil for Frying

*In a small bowl mix together the rice wine vinegar with 1/4 tsp of salt. After you have cleaned the shrimp, lay it out on its back and make two light incisions where the shrimp curls. Do not cut all the way through the shrimp. This will keep them from curling up during cooking. Place the shrimp into the bowl, stir to coat, and then cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 


*Heat the oil over medium-high until it reaches 375 degrees F. If you do not have a kitchen thermometer this typically takes 12-15 minutes and can be checked by dropping a  small cube of bread into the oil. If the temperature is correct it will brown in under 60 seconds. 


*While your oil is heating, combine the flour, starch, baking powder, sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and corn meal with the ice water and egg. Sprinkle with black pepper and 1/4 tsp Paprika. Dredge the shrimp/prawns in the mixture, thoroughly coating all sides. Deep-fry them carefully, being sure to not overcrowd your pan, until golden brown, approximated 1 and 1/2 minutes per shrimp. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a mat of paper towels. 
*For the Roll:
  • 1 small Banana, peeled and sliced into long thin strips
  • 3 Tbsp Dried Coconut Flakes, divided
  • 3 Tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce (I use Mae Ploy Brand)
  • 2 8" lengths cut from 1/4" block of cream cheese (Slice a long, thin strip vertically from an 8oz block of cream cheese)
  • 3 Sheets Nori
  • 2 Cups Sushi Rice, Cooked (Instructions Here)
  • 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • Chili Flakes, Pepper, and Sesame Seeds
*In a wok or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the banana strips and increase heat to high. Sprinkle with pepper and chili flakes (add to your personal heat preference) and sear, shaking the pan vigorously until the banana has browned on both sides. Remove from heat. 

Making the Rolls
*When everything is prepped and your rice has cooled you are now ready to make the rolls. Be sure to give yourself a large, flat, clean surface in which to work your magic. Fill a glass or small bowl with warm water to seal the sushi and set a clean towel within arms reach for your fingers. Most Sushi Chefs use a sushi mat but since I didn't have one when I first began this venture I became quite accustomed to "free rolling". 
  • Lay your Nori out flat, crease side down. Take a spoonful of rice and pat it into the Nori, repeating until you have made a thin flat layer of rice, leaving about an inch of Nori free on the 3 sides closest to you, and about 3 inches on the end side. Sprinkle the rice with the Sesame Seeds. 
  • At the edge of the rice closest to you, lay a long thin strip of cream cheese. Sprinkle with scallions.
  • Now add 2 shrimp per roll, tail-side out, extending past the edge of the roll in a horizontal line to yourself. 
  • Add 2-3 strips of banana, laying them in a thin line parallel to the filling. 
  • Now the fun part!! Gently pick up the edges of the nori, and roll them in and away from you, slowly tucking the edge closest to you under, as you would a sleeping bag. As you roll and tuck, moisten the nori by dipping your fingers in the water and running them along each edge. As you near the end, make the final seal with water across the end crease. Roll your hands over the roll, back and forth as you would a rolling pin. You can do this several times to secure the roll. This will become easier with practice but if you've ever seen sushi made before you'll pick it up quickly.
  • To cut the sushi you will need an extra sharp knife. Run the blade under hot water before cutting. I find it helps to clean it after several cuts, as the rice will begin to stick and disrupt your slices. I cut all my rolls at once as I am ready to plate them. 



*This Recipe makes a total of Three Rolls*

TO SERVE: Once your rolls are cut and plated, top with 1 Tbsp of Coconut Flakes and 1 Tbsp of Sweet Chili Sauce, per roll. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and any remaining scallions and serve immediately with sides of: 
Wasabi
Soy Sauce
Pickled Ginger
Check back soon for another edition to my sushi saga: A Classic Shrimp Tempura Roll and everyone's Favorite, The California Roll. Again, be sure to check out my past post, Spicy Tuna Roll, Gingered Crab Roll, & Seared Ahi to make your sushi feast complete!

Happy Feasting Friends!

Enjoy :] 
<3 Marea 


11.07.2010

Gingered Butternut Squash Soup

Seasonal Sunday is back in action! And staying in step with my soup season ecstatics I now present you with a simply sweet and smoothly spicy winter soup: The Gingered Butternut Squash Soup. 

Not only will this soup warm your insides but it works quite delightfully to clear the sinuses as well! 

You will need a large saucepan and a food processor to complete this recipe. 





Gingered Butternut Squash Soup
  • 2lb Butternut Squash, skinned, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/3 cup Fresh Ginger, skinned and grated
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 medium Vidalia Onion
  • 1 large Carrot, diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock, canned or Homemade Recipe Here
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
*After you have prepped all your ingredients, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 

*Once onions and carrots are soft, add the ginger and garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Next, add the butternut squash and chicken stock and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes before reducing heat to medium-low. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

*Next, carefully ladle the soup in batches into your food processor, and pulse until well-blended and smooth. Return to saucepan and reheat if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste.

*To Serve: Ladle into bowls and lightly drizzle with a tsp or so of heavy cream or plain yogurt. Serve hot with a hearty baguette for dipping. I complimented mine with some warm homemade potato and onion bread. 

This soup is yet another reason to love the cold; or go wild and mix up a hot meal by serving this soup for starters, chilled ala gazpacho-style. 

Enjoy! :] 

10.30.2010

Creamy Tomato Soup with Three Cheese Crostini

The cold weather is finally here and I am more than ecstatic to break out my peacoat, my boots, and most importantly my soup pot! I look forward to soup season and sweaters in the way that normal people look to summer vacations, and beach getaways. I simply adore  the way curling up under a blanket feels when the world around you is frozen. The way the cold kisses noses and makes them red. And the way that a warm cup of anything never achieves its full potential until it is consumed in an icy environment!

Whenever I need an escape from the winter chill, a sense of nostalgia, or something to warm my insides, my mind goes directly to hot creamy tomato soup. I've been making this recipe for the last 5 years and my taste buds still delight over the first bite every time. This recipe is quick and simple and 100 times better than anything that will ever come out of a can. Andy Warhol would agree.

In celebration of the start of Soup Season, here's a twist on the Campbell's classic- sure to warm even the most chill-worthy day. 

Creamy Tomato Soup
  • 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Celery Stalks, diced with leaves
  • 3/4 cup Shallots, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 28oz Can Diced Tomatoes, plus juice
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock, canned or homemade recipe here
  • 2 cups Half-and-Half
  • 1 tsp Marjoram, freshly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme, fresh or dried
  • Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
*In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celery and stir, allowing it to soften, approximately 1-2 minutes. Mix in the garlic and shallots, continuing to stir frequently until soft, about 2 minutes. 

*Sprinkle the flour over the celery mix, coating the vegetables entirely. Pour in the tomatoes and their juices, the half-and-half, the chicken stock, the marjoram, and the thyme. Stir well and increase the heat to high. Bring to a 30 second boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer. Allow to simmer and thicken for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

To Serve: Salt and Pepper to taste and ladle into bowls. Top with a sprig of thyme and pair with hot out-of-the-oven Three-Cheese Crostinis.

Three Cheese Crostinis
  • 1/2 loaf of Artisan Baked Bread (I use a Garlic & Rosemary Loaf from Costco.)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere Cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup Smoked Gouda, freshly grated
  • Paprika
  • Italian Seasoning




*Slice the bread into long, thin pieces. Sprinkle with the cheeses, adding the parmesan last. Top with a shake of paprika and a dash of italian seasoning. 

*Spread the slices onto a foil lined baking sheet, place in the oven and broil on high until cheese has melted and the bread has browned, about 2 minutes. Broil longer if bread is not yet crispy and golden. 


To Serve: Carefully remove crostinis from the oven and serve hot alongside a steaming bowl of creamy tomato soup. 

You can really use any three of your favorite cheeses for this recipe. I like to switch it up with various cow's milk swiss cheeses and sharp cheddars. Also, play with the bread; a ciabatta or focaccia crisp up nicely as well.

With winter approaching and the cold weather rolling in, this recipe is sure to come in handy; so break out your warm fuzzy socks, your down blankets, and your firewood, then take the heat to the next level and warm your soul with a piping hot bowl of creamy tomato soup! 

Enjoy :]

<3 Marea
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