Thursday, December 29, 2011

Little Bites of Heaven

I apologize for the fuzzy picture but these little treats are all gone so I can't redo the photo. I will be making these again in various configurations and promise a better photo next time.  If I have gotten nothing else from I got the recipe for these tasty, melt in your mouth, cheesy popovers.   I used this recipe for Gorgonzola Popovers but I used Brie instead of Gorgonzola.  I'm sure Gorgonzola will be just as good but I didn't have any.  I think almost any cheese would be good in these. Of course, I'm prejudice because I love cheese.  I also used snips of green onion because I didn't have parsley.  I may try it with parsley too but the onion was nice.

I always thought popovers would be hard to make but they are not.  Just mix the ingredients and put them in the mini muffin tins and then add a bite of cheese.  I guess the secret is in not opening the oven to check on them.  The whole process probably took me 30 minutes from start to beautiful golden bites of fluffy popover and melty cheese.  It took me a little longer to eat them but not much.  I did only make a half recipe and good thing because I probably would have eaten an entire batch.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Salt and Pepper Cookies

I saw these cookies on The Chew one day over the holiday. The show was sponsoring a cookie contest and there were 5 finalists featured.   These Salt and Pepper Butterscotch-Pine Nut Cookies (the eventual winner) sounded intriguing so I decided to make them.  It is a basic cookie dough (butter, eggs, flour and sugar) with butterscotch chips. The secret is the toasted pine nuts that you add 1 Tablespoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to before mixing them into the dough.  The cookies then have a salty sweet taste with just a hint of heat.  I find them just a bit addicting and I've been giving the cookies away so I won't eat them all myself.  I will definitely make these again.  I think I might reduce the salt just a tiny bit.  And, make sure to fully incorporate the salt and pepper nuts. I found I had a few spots of INTENSE pepper or salt and so I'll be mixing more thoroughly next time.  I also think these would be good with semi-sweet chocolate chips. 
P.S.  I recently purchased a  non stick silicone baking liner (generic, not Silpat) and used it for the first time with these cookies.  LOVE IT!  Less than $10 at Target - I'll be going back for more.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Christmas!

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

War is over over
If you want it
War is over

-John Lennon

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Coffee Spice Cookies from Food Network

I made coffee spice cookies just before my niece arrived. I wasn't sure about them. I felt they were okay, but nothing special. I was contemplating crushing them up and making a  crust for a lemon cheesecake with them, which I still think would be very good, but my niece liked them as is.  So we polished them off during her visit. I grew to like the coffee-spicey taste. I will make a double batch next time so there are enough to eat and enough to make cheesecake with. 

I left out the chocolate sprinkles on purpose and I am glad. It just didn't seem they'd add anything good, even though I do love chocolate. 

Also, these were super easy to make.  Just mix everything together, roll into two logs and refrigerate. Then slice and bake. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bonne Femme!

It was hard to decide which recipe to make first from my new cook book The Bonne Femme Cookbook but I finally decided on starting with a starter.  I chose Flaky Green Olive and Cheese Spirals.

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 T water
  • 1/2 C chopped pitted green olives (I used 14)
  • 3/4 C (3 oz) shredded Pyrenees sheep's cheese such as Ossau-Iraty or Petit Basque
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

  1. Thaw the puff pastry (see package directions).
  2. Whisk the egg and water together in small bowl.
  3. Unfold the pastry on a lightly floured board and brush with some of the egg wash.  Reserve the remaining egg wash.
  4. Top the pastry with the olives, cheese and garlic.  (I mixed all together and them spread them on the pastry.)
  5. Roll up the pastry, starting at the short side. ( My pastry was almost square so I just picked a side.)
  6. Refrigerate the roll for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  7. Slice the roll into 15,  1/2 inch slices and lay flat on a parchment lined baking sheet.  I cut mine a little thicker and ended up with 12.
  8. Brush the slices with reserved egg wash.
  9. Bake 15 or 20 minutes, until golden.
  10. Serve warm or at room temp.

Here is the result:

These were very easy to make and very tasty.  Flaky pastry, salty olives and mild cheese.  Delicious!  I got the green olives from the olive bar at Whole Foods so they were marinated which I think added some nice flavor.  I've never had either of the cheeses mentioned so I got both and mixed them.  They were quite similar but the Petit Basque has a little stronger taste; I will use it by itself next time.  The author suggests an alternate filling using one of her tapenade recipes and goat cheese.  I'll probably try that one too. And I might do one with blue cheese.  Yum!

I learned about this book over at verbatim. Karen was the copy editor on the book and she is mentioned in the acknowledgments.  Thanks Karen, I love the book.

Friday, November 18, 2011


 Our office has an annual cookie party and I decided to participate this year.  I did two different versions of two different cookies, both of which I found over on the web (yes, through pinterest).  The first was lemon pecan shortbread .  I made the dough the night before and then rolled it into a 1-1/2 inch diameter log and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, I sliced the roll into 1/2 inch thick cookies and baked them.  I didn't roll the dough and cut shapes as the recipe called for because I didn't have the patience.  This morning, I melted some dark chocolate kisses (used for my other cookies, added a little cream and then some warm water to get the consistency I wanted and drizzled it over the cookies.  In another bowl, I mixed about a cup of confectioner sugar, a tablespoon of cream and the juice from one lemon to make a glaze. I drizzled that over the other half of the cookies.  While I found the cookies a little dry, the drizzle helped.  And coffee helped even more.  Next time I might cut back on the flour a bit.

For my next trick, I made  pretzel hugs . This is really more of a construction project than a recipe because there isn't much baking involved. You buy some Snyder's Snaps Pretzels and some Hershey kisses.  I bought the dark chocolate kisses and the milk chocolate with caramel kisses. Lay the pretzels in rows on a waxed paper or parchment covered baking sheet and top each pretzel with a kiss.  Put them in a 300 degree oven for about 2 1/2 minutes.  Do a test batch first.  You don't want the kisses to melt but you want them 'squishy'.
Remove the pretzels from the oven and top with another pretzel.  The instructions say to wait a minute but I don't know if that helps or not.  I'm impatient and I put pretzels on top pretty quickly.  The dark chocolate came out looking pretty. As you can see by the picture on the left, the caramel ones got a little sticky.  Sticky but delicious!  I liked both versions but the caramel was the best, in my opinion. 

I thought the pretzel cookies would be an easy way for me to bring something but not spend too much time baking.  As it turns out, opening all the kisses, lining up the pretzels and watching over them for two minutes makes this one a little tedious.  But worth the effort.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cauliflower Pizza Crust and More

I already liked cauliflower so I was ready to try cauliflower pizza crust as as soon as I saw it here.  I think even people who don't like cauliflower would like this crust because it is all cheesy goodness.  I baked my crust and then topped it with TJ's pizza sauce, some cooked mushrooms, cooked spinach and uncooked grape tomatoes.   I sprinkled some more mozzarella and a little grated Parmesan on top and broiled it for about 5 minutes. Just long enough to melt the cheese.  It was so good.  While I was exploring the web for more on cauliflower rice, I found this site.  The recipe there uses egg white instead of whole egg.  I've tried it both ways and I prefer the version with the egg yolk included.  I do use less cheese and egg than either site. Approximately half the cheese and only enough egg to hold everything together. 

The basis of cauliflower pizza crust is cauliflower rice.  Cauliflower rice is just grated (or food processed) cauliflower that has been seasoned to taste and sauteed in olive oil until it is tender.  I liked the recipe at the Secret Life of Cauliflower site that has the alternate pizza crust recipe.   I could eat bowls of this rice in one sitting but, as I mentioned, I like cauliflower.  Next time I make it I will brown it more.  At least when I plan to have it as rice.  Future plans include serving it as a side and also using it to make fried rice.  The pizza crust recipes say to skip the oil and seasonings when making the rice for crust but I ignored that and used my spicy rice in the crust mixture.

This is what my pizza 'crust' looked like before I put the toppings on it.  It looked good enough to eat plain and so tonight I made a new batch and, as suggested by the Secret Life site, made 'bread sticks'.  I just shaped the mixture into sticks on the baking pan.  I dipped them in the left over pizza sauce.   Very yummy!  I could just slice the pan of dough into sticks but then I wouldn't have enough crispy edges.  Next time I will flip the sticks to get some more browning.  I'll also use parchment to prevent sticking.  I predict cauliflower sticks will be cooked a lot at my house.  That and cauliflower rice.  And pizza.  And, oh yeah, I learned about cauliflower pizza crust on, you guessed it, :-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Crispy Shrimp AND Lemon Pull Apart Bread

This past weekend, I cooked two recipes I found over on (if you want an invite just let me know).  The first was Crispy Shrimp Pasta, pictured to the left.  I used wheat rotelle from Trader Joe's but otherwise followed the recipe.  The shrimp was yummy and I ate several while I was finishing up the sauce for the pasta.  The sauce was also good, though I think I'll spice it up more in the future.  I also thought the sauce was a little thin.  The recipe says to add some cornstarch and water if you're not happy with the consistency.  I added the cornstarch and still thought the sauce was thin.  It did thicken up after it sat for a bit but I still think next time I'll see if I can't thicken the sauce a little more before adding the pasta.

For dessert I made Lemon Pull Apart Bread.  I loved this recipe and it will become a standard.  It was really pretty simple to make.  I made the dough Saturday night and baked the bread on Sunday.  Simply roll out the dough, butter it, and sprinkle on lemon/orange sugar. Then cut long strips which you stack and then cut again to make squares.  Put the squares in the pan and bake.  When it's done, pour a lemon glaze on and then try not to eat it all in one sitting.  I controlled myself and had a small piece Sunday and took the remaining loaf to work.  It went pretty quickly so I was limited to one good slice for breakfast with my coffee.  This bread is probably more a coffee cake rather than a dessert but I'd be happy with it as either. It is just slightly sweet with just the right amount of lemon flavor.  YUM!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fennel, Potatoes and Butter - UPDATED

My first course tonight was fennel roasted with butter and Parmesan cheese.  I got the recipe from the same Chef Boyardee book I got the Italian Potato Salad from.  I've never cooked fennel before, though I believe I have had it in salads.  For this dish, quarter the fennel and steam it or microwave it until tender; it is tender enough when you can easily push a knife into it.  Place the cooked fennel in an oven safe pan and pour some melted butter over it - I used about 2 tablespoons for one fennel bulb.  Sprinkle a tablespoon (or more) of Parmesan over the pieces. Cook the fennel in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until brown.  I turned the fennel once during the cooking, since the fennel was getting browned on the bottom but not the top.  I thought this was quite tasty.  Fennel has a slight anise (licorice) aroma but I didn't think it tasted like licorice.  I would describe it as a cross between celery and sweet onion. UPDATE: I found another recipe here that looks even better.  Fennel would go great with meat or fish.  But I didn't have either.  Instead, for my second course:

I roasted these Dutch Yellow potatoes.  I found the recipe on my new favorite site Pinterest. You cook the potatoes (I microwaved them) and then make thin slices without cutting all the way through.  Drizzle some olive oil and butter over them and add salt and pepper.  Next time I will try to separate the pieces a bit before the drizzle so more butter/oil and salt get in between them.   Roast them at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until they are nice and brown with crispy edges.  These would also go well with meat or fish but I ate mine accompanied with Crème fraîche and tobiko and it looked like this:

And it tasted great! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Italian Potato salad

I made this Italian Potato Salad last weekend and thought it was quite yummy.  It tastes best warm or at room temperature.  I had it for lunch and then had some of the leftovers the next day.  I don't recommend it when it is cold, like you would eat typical mayonnaise based potato salad.

This recipe is adapted from Delicious Memories: Recipes and Stories From the Chef Boyardee Family  which I discovered at the Senior Library while I was working.  I picked it up because I just didn't think recipes for Chef Boyardee canned food could be interesting, let alone good tasting.  But I was very wrong.  The book shares many family recipes and, while the translation to canned food might not appeal, the home made versions seem delicious.  I will be trying several of them.

Italian Potato Salad

1 lb red potatoes   (or new potatoes or Yukon gold, whatever you like)
¼ C olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1T wine vinegar
4 T finely chopped carrot. (I used the large side of my grater)
1T chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the potatoes in salt water until tender.  While potatoes cook mix the remaining ingredients together and let sit.  When potatoes are cooked and still hot, cut them into chunks and mix with oil mixture.  Add a little more olive oil if necessary – the potatoes can soak it up.  Serve warm. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

One Pot Mac & Cheese - UPDATED

I made one pot mac & cheese tonight and will certainly make it again.  It was pretty simple as long as you're willing to stand in the kitchen and stir a lot; kind of like with risotto.  You put the macaroni and milk in the pan and cook on low while the macaroni absorbs the milk.  This means no making a bechamel and no need for cream and butter (though I did add a small bit of butter).  The starch from the pasta along with the evaporation from the milk creates the thickness.  I didn't have elbow mac and used some small penne from TJs.  Perhaps that pasta is bigger but I found I needed about twice as much milk as called for.  That is fine since, like risotto, you can just keep adding liquid as you go.  I also put in a little more cheese - maybe 1/3 cup or so.  Next time I'll probably have it be a bit more liquid when I cover and let set so it isn't too thick.  When my pasta was done, I tossed in some broccoli and tuna and had myself a nice one pot meal.  Delicious!

Update:  Not so good as a leftover.  It gets a little to mushy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hot !

Oh dear.  Got a little too close to the hot pot of Haitian Pumpkin Soup, I think.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Haitian Pumpkin Soup

This Haitian Pumpkin Soup will definitely become a Fall staple for me.  It is just yummy.  One major difference is that I don't use the blender to puree the squash. I use my immersion blender. If you don't have one and if you love to make soup, you should definitely invest in one.  It will cost between $20 and $50 depending on how fancy you want to get.  No more transferring ingredients to the blender in batches.  You just put the immersion blender in the pot and puree. Easy, breezy. 

I used butternut squash.  I also added some red chile flakes for more heat.  The jalapenos add flavor but no real heat since you don't chop them up.  I made the entire recipe but didn't put the capellini in the main batch.  I pulled out the amount I wanted and added capellini to that, cooking it until tender.  I don't like pasta in leftover soups because it gets too mushy.  The capellini will definitely thicken up the soup so don't worry if it looks a little thin before you add the pasta. 

I served this with a nice Savignon Blanc (Geyser Peak) and added a spoonful of crème fraiche to the soup bowl.  You don't see that here because I ate mine before I remembered to take a picture. 

Pumpkin! Custard!

I made Pumpkin with Custard last night.  It was pretty easy to make though finding the right pot with tray for the pumpkin was a challenge for my kitchen. The end result does look remarkably like the photo.  The custard is out of the world delicious with the cardamon, orange and nutmeg.  The pumpkin goes well with the custard... BUT.. I kept wanting to mush the pumpkin up and add some maple or brown sugar.  So though it is beautiful to look at, to be more practical I think next time I'd do a layered dish with some pumpkin mashed with butter, maple syrup, etc., on the bottom and then the custard on top. Cover and bake.   And, if I'm not in a pumpkin mood, I'd make the custard just by itself and probably eat the entire batch in one sitting.  Yum!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

At the rising of the sun and at its going down,
We remember them.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter,
We remember them.

At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of Spring,
We remember them.

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer,
We remember them.

At the rustling of leaves and the beauty of Autumn,
We remember them.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
We remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart,
We remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share,
We remember them.

When we have decisions that are difficult to make,
We remember them

When we have achievements that are based on theirs,
We remember them.

As long as we live, they too shall live,
for they are a part of us,
as we remember them.

- Author Unknown
New Union Prayer Book for the Days of Awe

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Listen To The Warm

Today it was cloudy when I left the house and then when I went to met a friend after my stint at the senior library, I took an umbrella with me because there were dark clouds in the sky and I could see lightening at the edge of town.  By the time we finished lunch, the sun was out, the sky was blue and it was just the perfect temperature.  It made me think it would be a good day to lie down and listen to the warm.  

I was a big Rob McKuen fan when I was in my late teens and early twenties.  I hadn't really thought about  him in years but the phrase that popped into my mind this sunny afternoon was a line from one of my favorite Rod McKuen poems.

Listen to the Warm
By Rod McKuen

I live alone.
It hasn't always been that way.
It's nice sometimes
             to open up the heart a little
and let some hurt come in.
It proves you're still alive.

I'm not sure what it means.
Why we cannot shake the old loves from out minds.
It must be that we build on memory
and make them more that what they were.
             And is the manufacture
just a safe device for closing up the wall?

I do remember.

The only fuzzy circumstance
is sometimes where-and how.

Why, I know.
It happens just because we need
to want and to be wanted too,
when love is here or gone
to lie down in the darknes
          and listen to the warm

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wandering The Net

I found a link I want to share with you and this is how I found it:  I was catching up on facebook and saw a post from Randy Cohen, who used to be The Ethicist at NYTimes, about Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Story of Staggering Genius.  I thought to myself that I'd heard of the book but never read it so I went over to Goodreads to put in on my to-read list (while you're over there reading about it, you can join and share your reading list with me).

On Goodreads, I visited the bio of Dave Eggers, saw his website link and realized he was the founder of McSweeney's, an internet site that I used to visit a lot.  I either got tired of it or just forgot about it but today I back for a visit.  I clicked over to the Tendency page and browsed.  There I found this note about Comic Sans that made me laugh.  And now I'm telling you about it.

Maybe you'll read the article and then see some other articles and share them with friends.  Or maybe you'll never get to the funny letter because you'll wander off from one of the previous links.  If you find something good, be sure to share.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grilled Pizza with Ricotta and Roasted Tomatoes

Tonight's dinner was almost exclusively Trader Joe's ingredients.  Yesterday I made some Ricotta cheese using TJ's heavy cream, buttermilk and milk.  I used this recipe which was quite easy and made tasty cheese.  Today I roasted a package of mixed medley cherry tomatoes (spray with olive oil and roast at 350 for 30 minutes).  I sauteed a nice size shallot in some olive oil and butter. My only non TJ item was a nice purple garlic clove from the garlic guy in Los Olivos.  I crushed the garlic and added it to 1/4 cup olive oil (TJ's).   I bought TJ's wheat and herb garlic pizza doughs.  I used equal parts of the two doughs to make my pizza crust.   I brushed the dough with garlic olive oil and placed it oil side down on the grill.  After 3-5 minutes when the bottom had some nice grill marks, I flipped it.  Brushed the top with garlic olive oil and then topped it with the cheese, roasted tomatoes and shallots. I grilled it for another 8 minutes. (Note: I like things well browned).   I sprinkled on some grated Pecorino Romano and then served my pizza with yummy Stolpman Sangiovese.  The wine was not from TJ's but I'm sure you could find a nice one there too.

If I were to change anything I might add a little more salt to my Ricotta or sprinkle some salt over the cheese on  the pizza.  But otherwise, YUMMMMM!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shrimp Cakes with Ginger Butter

I copied this into my mail one day while working at the library and have to admit I don't remember from where.  Maybe Food Network.  I tried them today with mixed results.  They were easy to make but I felt they needed something.  A little more heat.  Maybe some red pepper flakes.  And the butter could have been more gingery and more soy saucy.  I also need to come up with a good accompaniment. Maybe a nice salad.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 C chopped fresh mushrooms (original recipe called for 1/2 cup canned= ugh!)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 large shallots, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
1 large egg
Zest of 1/2 large lemon

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2-inch-long piece fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated to yield 4 teaspoons
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil, plus extra as needed

Shrimp Cakes:
Saute the mushrooms, carrot, shallots, salt, and pepper in the olive oil until the carrot begins to soften, about 6 to 7 minutes. Put the cooked veggies and shrimp in the food processor and add beadcrumbs, egg, and lemon zest. Pulse until mixed together and still somewhat chunky.  Form the mix into about 12-14 small patties.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Mix together the butter, ginger, soy sauce and salt until combined. Wrap the butter in plastic wrap, making a log. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until firm. Slice the butter into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.

Heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 of the patties and cook for 3 to 4 minutes each side until golden. Add extra oil, if needed, and cook the remaining patties. Serve the shrimp cakes while still warm with a slice of ginger butter on top.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Google Plus

I've been playing with Google Plus for a few days now.  Up to this point, my experience with Google Plus is that it is facebook with a few improvements.  It pretty easy to use and I think it might be even easier if I hadn't been using fb for so long.

I've liked putting people in circles so I can post only to the people I want to. And I can stream (see posts from) any specific circle. Or I can go over to one person's profile and see only the posts they intend me to see.   Just drag and drop people into whatever groups (circles) you want.  I have one circle for general posts that go to just about all my contacts and then I have a friends circle, a family circle and a work circle.  If I keep using g+, I'll likely create a group for people who share my liberal leftist orientation so I don't offend my wonderful, more conservative friends.  Ultimately I could see having a recipe sharing group too. You can also include non g+ users in your circles just by adding their email address.  If you share a post and indicate you want the email users to see it, it will go to them.  And they can even respond without joining g+.  Great idea!

Google+ doesn't have messaging which is fb's semi email system. When you share any post, you indicate which circles or individuals you want that post shared with.  It's easy to add circles or people.  No one but the people you want to will see it.  Which is a little more private than writing on some one's facebook wall.  And you don't have to switch over to the messages to invoke the privacy.   If you decide later you want to let more people see the post or want to restrict others, you can do it.

I love that I can edit posts after they've been posted.  If I catch an error on an fb post, I can quickly delete and repost but if people have already 'liked' it or commented, I can't go back and edit an fb post. Now my typos can be eradicated whenever I find them.  Which reminds me, you don't 'like' posts in g+ you '1+' them.

One thing I'm not in love with on g+ is the photos.  The streamed versions are pretty big images and I prefer the thumbnail version on fb.  I've heard if you have an android phone you can easily upload your photos and that sounds good but I have a Blackberry and I can't do that.  I do like that sharing photos is pretty much like sharing posts - you just indicate who gets to see photos/albums.  You can tag photos but I haven't checked to see if you can untag a photo someone else tags you in.

I haven't played much with the Sparks feature so can't comment much there.  I also haven't seen anything like Scrabble or other games on g+.  But I can certainly do without all the various Villes.  I have no idea how g+ will approach what fb calls pages.  I like the pages such as NPR and Zagat that post to my fb wall.  If g+ has anything like that I haven't seen it.

There is still a lot to explore.  I do like g+ and if everyone starts moving over there I'll be fine.  I'm also happy to stay on facebook for the time being.  Not sure how long I'd be willing to manage both.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

White Corn Guacamole

A couple of weeks back, an out-of-town friend and I went over to the Fashion Show Mall after work so she could pick up something she needed.  While we were there,  we decided to have dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.  We have a couple CPKs here but I don't eat there often because they seem out of the way - being in malls.

For an appetizer, we decided to try the White Corn Guacamole.  It was delicious! Diced avocado, white corn and black beans are the main ingredients.  Lime juice and cilantro were evident.  Looking at the menu, it seems that green onion, jicama and red pepper are involved.  I found Bobby Flay's recipe for something similar, though he chars the corn.  I made my own version today, combining the two, using charred corn, onion, black beans, avocado, lime juice and cilantro.  I didn't have any peppers but would definitely try some jalapeno in there.

I served mine on some crostini instead of chips.  And, of course, had some white wine to go with.  This is definitely going to be a staple for me.  The sweet corn with the avocado is amazing.  Also, I think dicing the avocado instead of mashing it the way to go.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shrimp and Artichoke Soup

While I was in New Orleans, our group decided to go to a cooking class at New Orleans School of Cooking. We had a great time with our teacher Ann.  We observed her make Shrimp Artichoke Soup, Crawfish Etouffee and Pralines.  And then we got to eat it.  With beer!  We were given the recipes and told that if we made one of the recipes and sent a picture to the school, we would get our cooking license. 

Today I made the Shrimp Artichoke Soup. Here is the recipe.  I made some alterations which I've described below the recipe.

Shrimp and Artichoke Soup:
24 oz artichoke quarters (TJ frozen for me)
1 qt chicken stock (I used veggie stock and will probably try fish stock)
1 T thyme leaves
1 C chopped green onions
1/4 C butter
1/4 C flour plus 1 T
1 qt heavy cream
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt to taste
Joe's Stuff to taste ( This is a NOSOC product but you can use any creole type seasoning) I used about 2 T
1 C chopped green onion for garnish
1 T chopped parsley for garnish

Combine artichokes, stock, 1 C green onions, salt, Joe's stuff, and thyme to pot and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 12 minutes.  Combine butter and flour in a small pan and make a light roux - cooking about 5 minutes.  Add roux and  heavy cream and continue simmering 10 minutes.  Add shrimp and simmer another 5 minutes.  Garnish with green onions and parsley in the bowls.

This was how we had it at school.  At home, I added a few shrimp and used the immersion blender to make the soup creamy and smooth.  Then I tossed in the remaining shrimp and simmered.

I also added a T of sherry to the bowl before serving.  I served it with white wine and garlic bread.

If you're ever in New Orleans be sure to take a class and tell Ann I sent you.  You'll love it. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I went to Trader Joe's this afternoon to pick up a few items.   After I made my selections, I proceeded to the 15 or fewer line where I was the only customer.  I placed my things on the counter and handed the checker my 'I used to be a plastic bottle' bag.  He rang up one item, put it in my bag and stated the price.  I looked at him quizzically, pointing to my other items.  "Oh, are those yours too?" I looked around to see who else could be paying for them and I nodded.  He rang up more items, placing them in my bag.  I ran my credit card and checked the appropriate boxes. The clerk handed me my receipt and bag and, as I turned to leave, he said, "Oh, is this pasta yours too?"  I refrained from saying, "No, I'm psychic and I put it there for the next customer - I sense they'll need it."  Instead, I just nodded and got my wallet out. He rang up my last item and I paid and left.  I think I'm done shopping today.