Sunday, August 2, 2015

Peel-N-Eat Shrimp


One of our favorite appetizers is peel-n-eat shrimp. Here's what Seafood Watch has to say about shrimp and making good choices for the sustainability of the food and the oceans: click here. I decided that I wanted to do a quick pan-fry version. It was tasty!

Ingredients
  • 1 pound shrimp
  • 2 T butter (or butter alternative) + more for melting and serving
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 T Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
  • lemon wedges for serving

Procedure
Melt butter in a large, flat-bottom pan. Lay the shrimp flat on the bottom so that they are in a single layer. Do this in batches if your pan isn't big enough. Cook till you begin to see them turn opaque on the bottom. Flip over and cook till completely opaque.

To serve, toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice, Old Bay, and parsley. Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges on the side...and lots of napkins!

Peachy Sticky Rice


This is not a traditional Thai Khao Neeo Mamuang; it's my own fast and loose interpretation with seasonal peaches instead of not-local mangoes. I love the nuttiness of the forbidden rice...and I love that name! Plus, it is delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 C Forbidden rice
  • 2 C coconut cream
  • 2 C water
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 4 T coconut flakes, toasted
  • ripe peaches, sliced for serving

Procedure
Place all of the ingredients - except for the coconut flakes and the peaches - in a large saucepan that has a lid. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and let steam until the rice is tender. If the rice is not cooked, but all the liquid has evaporated, add in more water. Once the rice is cooked, fold in the coconut flakes. Spoon it out on individual plates and top with sliced peaches.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Weekends in a French Kitchen: Almond Gazpacho


Weekends in a French Kitchen (click to read about the project: here) launched this month though I skipped last week because I was off on a 10-day camping trip with my family around northern California. See...here we are along Fern Canyon in Van Damme State Park.


And if you're game to join the fun, I'm including affiliate links to the cookbooks at the bottom of the post. Yesterday I posted from Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan's cookbook. Today I'm sharing a dish from Mimi Thorisson's A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse.


Special thanks to the project organizers: Alice of A Mama, Baby and Sharpei in the Kitchen, Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva, Tammy of Telling Stories from Chez Nous, and Emily of Blue Bungalow.

This week's selection from Mimi Thorisson's A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse is Almond Gazpacho. You'll find this recipe on page 85 of the A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse...we will not be posting the actual recipes on our blogs.



Gazpacho and My Thoughts...

This was a quick lunch on a hot summer afternoon. My husband is doing a gluten-free experiment right now, so I used a gluten-free white bread. It worked well. And while I was dubious about the green grapes - I thought they would be too sweet - I was glad to be mistaken. The flavors were delicate and delicious. I will definitely be making this again soon.

Perfect Peach Cobbler for #thebookclubcookbookCC


Here we are at month two in #thebookclubcookbookCC, a year-long journey to explore - and cook from - The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp.* Judy, Vicki, and their publisher, Tarcher-Penguin, have provided the hosting bloggers with copies of the book plus copies to giveaway each month of the project. Woohoo. Incredibly generous.

This month Andrea at Adventures in all Things Food has selected A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson.** Click to read her invitation: here. She asked us to 'come share a book and a slice of pie.' The recipe Judy and Vicki shared for the cook selection is a Very Yellow Lemon Meringue Pie.

On the Page...
Last month my family and I embarked on our annual 10-day camping trip. It's 10 days, 1200+ miles, 2 states, and 5 different campsites. It's dirty and glorious. And I get a lot of reading done. I brought A Walk in the Woods with me and finished it over the course of two days.


This is Bryson's account of his Appalachian Trail adventure. The AT stretches along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Maine and thru-hikers traverse the obstacles during the more temperate months, e.g. not during the snow. There were parts of this book that made me laugh aloud. My husband would ask, "What's so funny?" And I'd read him passages that made us chuckle as we huddled around the firepit after the boys were tucked in their tents. Here's one passage where Bryson is asking his hiking pal, Katz, about the morning coffee; Katz had, in frustration and anger, lightened his pack load the day before.

"Is there a reason," I asked, "why you are filtering the coffee with toilet paper?"

"I, oh...I threw out the filter papers."

..."They couldn't have weighed two ounces."

"I know, but they were great for throwing. Fluttering all over." ..."The toilet paper seems to be working OK, though."

While this book hasn't inspired me to do any distance hiking - 11 miles is about my comfort level in a day - I thoroughly enjoyed his account of the trail and adventures and mis-adventures. 

On the Plate...
When looking for inspiration in the kitchen, I considered the Lemon Pie from The Book Club Cookbook. "...[A] vast, viscous, canary-yellow wedge of lemon pie. ...yellow enough to give you a headache, sweet enough to make your eyeballs roll up into your head - everything, in short, you could want in a pie so long as taste and quality didn't enter into your requirements." 

We do have a prolific Meyer lemon tree in the backyard. But I was more inspired by his account of MacKaye's original vision for the trail shelters: "if shelters along the trail were proper hostels, with hot showers...and a resident caretaker/cook to keep a cheery fire dancing in the grate and who would invite us, any minute now, to take our places at a long table for dinner of stew and dumplings, cornbread and, oh, let us say, peach cobbler." Sounds divine. He had me dreaming of peach cobbler for the rest of our camping trip.

As soon as we got home, I whipped up my version of a perfect dream-inspiring peach cobbler! I added in some tart rhubarb, too, for color and to cut the sometimes cloying summer peaches.

Perfect Peach Cobbler

Filling Ingredients
  • 4 C sliced organic peaches
  • 1 C sliced organic rhubarb
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 C packed organic brown sugar
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • dash of ground cardamom
  • 2 T butter
Topping Ingredients
  • 1 C white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C packed organic brown sugar
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 3 to 4 T olive oil
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • dash of ground cardamom

Procedure
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a baking dish.

With a wooden spoon mix all of the filling ingredients until thoroughly combined and the peaches and rhubarb are all coated with the other ingredients. Spoon the filling into the prepared pan and dot with 2 T butter that's been cubed.

For the topping...stir until all the ingredients are combined. The consistency will be like a crumble top. Spoon the topping over the fruit and use a spatula to spread it over the fruit. 

Bake the cobbler for 40-50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

Giveaway
This month Andrea at Adventures in all Things Food, this month's host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

One of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-PenguinGiveaway runs from August 1st till August 31st at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: Andrea received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp to use in this year-long project plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

**I've included an affiliate link below for this month's selection...if you would like to read it. If you are uncomfortable using the link, feel free to go to amazon and search "A Walk in the Woods" on your own!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Grano Saraceno Risotto con Funghi e Miele for #ItalianFWT


This month the Italian Food, Wine & Travel - #ItalianFWT - blogging group is traveling to their tenth region of Italy: Sardegna (or Sardinia, in English). I'm joining for the first time and was thrilled to be heading to Sardegna by tabletop and goblet.

When I lived in Italy, after college, I hopped on the overnight ferry out of Civitavecchia to Olbia. My friend and I couldn't afford a seat, so we slept in sleeping bags on the deck all the way across. Good thing I was young and resilient! Sleeping on an unforgiving deck bench in this decade would be torturous.

From the port, which I remember smelled of orange blossoms, Kristin and I caught a bus to Costa Smeralda and camped on the granite cliffs overlooking the white sand beaches of Santa Teresa di Gallura. It's a town on the northern tip of Sardinia and you can see the southern coast of Corsica from the beach. Absolutely stunning. I loved it so much that I went back one more time before I moved back to the States.

To celebrate my 23rd, we had a bottle of wine - maybe two bottles - crusty bread, wild strawberries, and some pungent sheep's milk cheese. It was one of my most memorable birthday dinners ever. I only wish I had the photos digitally to share with you. Maybe I need to invest in a slide scanner.


My fellow bloggers have lots to share with you so check out their blogs below.  If you're reading this in time also you can join us live on Twitter at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT and tell us all about your experiences with the island of Sardegna or come and learn something new about this region.
I have no recollection of what wine I drank while I was in Sardegna. I just remember it being red and plentiful. For this event, I tracked down a 2009 Shardana. When the Phoenicians first set eyes on Sardinia, they arrived from the south, to the Sulcis peninsula. From there they traveled north until they had colonized the entire island. Shardana was their name for the native Sardinians. The red symbol on the label [above] is the Phoenician letter 's'.

This 2009 Shardana is an epic red blend that has layers of spice, herbs, licorice, and black olives. I could almost taste the vibrant mix of myrtle and juniper whose heady scents enveloped the cliffs that I remember from Sardinia. It was an intense sensation. I could close my eyes and imagine the waves crashing on the beach at Santa Teresa di Gallura. I loved this robust red. Cin cin! 


On My Plate...
I already told you about my Spartan - in the austere sense - birthday dinner. During my second trip a few months later, I was with more friends. We pooled our money and splurged on some seafood and pasta. And, of course, more wine.

When I was trying to decide what to make for this, I came across a Sardinian dish that's a risotto-style dish made with fregula sarda and has mushrooms, abbamele, and goat cheese. Fregula is a small, toasted semolina pasta. Abbamele is made by pressing honeycombs to extract all the honey and pollen then reducing that honey in large copper pots. Not having either of those ingredients, I opted to use buckwheat groats ("grana saraceno" in Italian) and a pine honey. The dish was a hit and paired beautifully with the Shardana.

Grano Saraceno Risotto con Funghi e Miele


Ingredients

  • 3 C organic chicken stock
  • 1/2 C red wine
  • 1 to 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 C chopped shallots
  • 1/2 C diced red peppers
  • 1 C sliced mushrooms (I used a mixture of shitake and morel mushrooms)
  • 1 1/4 C uncooked buckwheat groats
  • 1/4 C finely chopped fresh herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, oregano, and thyme)
  • 1/2 C goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 T abbamele or honey
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
Combine stock and wine in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and keep at a simmer while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Heat oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add shallots and cook until softened and translucent. Add the peppers and cook till softened. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until they soften and the liquid mostly evaporates.

Add in the buckwheat and stir to coat with oil. Add in liquid by the ladle-full, stirring constantly, until each addition of liquid is absorbed. This might take 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat. Stir herbs, goat cheese, and 2 t honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon risotto into serving bowls and drizzle each serving with remaining honey. Serve immediately.

Off to Abruzzo...
Next month's #ItalianFWT event happens on September 5th. We will be featuring the region of Abruzzo. Can't wait.

Scallop-Shrimp Ceviche

Ceviche is easily one of my top three favorite appetizers of all time. It's a simple dish of seafood "cooked" by the acid in lemons and limes. It's so easy, but it requires incredibly fresh ingredients. I usually ask my fish monger which is the best choice for ceviche that day. Sometimes he'll say shrimp, sometimes it's the scallops. The day I made this, he said both. So, I used both!


Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound scallops, sliced (click here to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch findings on scallops)
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 t freshly ground salt
  • ½ t freshly ground pepper
  • 6-8 fresh lemons, juiced (I used Meyer lemons from a tree we have in our yard)
  • 1/2 C chopped organic red bell pepper
  • 1/2 C chopped organic cucumber
  • 2 organic green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T salsa or hot sauce (I used some Carrot Karma Hot Sauce from Intensity Academy)
  • fresh lettuce, for serving
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste, for serving
  • freshly ground pepper for serving

Procedure
Place the raw seafood pieces in a glass dish and cover them with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. The seafood should be completely covered by juice.

Cover the dish and place it in the refrigerator. Let the seafood marinate or "cook" in the lemon juice for at least 4 hours. Once the seafood is "cooked" in the juices, add the remaining ingredients just before serving.

To serve, place one washed and dried lettuce leaf on your plate. Top with the ceviche. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gluten-Free Fridays: Lemon Bars #glutenfreecheatsheet #sponsor

Earlier this month - before I left on a 10-day camping trip and before my laptop went kaput - I introduced you to a brand new cookbook from Perigee-Penguin: THE GLUTEN-FREE CHEAT SHEET: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less, written by gluten-free maven April Peveteaux, author of the blog Gluten is My Bitch.


Thank you to Perigee-Penguin for inspiring this series of posts. This is my third Gluten-Free Fridays post. Don't forget about your chance to win a copy of the book. I will continue to post gluten-free recipes, but that is a story for another day. This is the final post before the giveaway ends.

One of my biggest challenges, when cooking for my GF friends, has been making sweets.  Sometimes a crust will be as dry as the Sahara Desert. Sometimes it's rubbery. Like Flubber rubbery. Yuck. I should probably blend my own GF flour more regularly to create some consistency and predictability. When I'm in a pinch, I use Trader Joe's gluten-free blend. I have tried Bob's Red Mill GF flour, but I am sensitive to fava flour. Ugh. So, I definitely need to put more time and energy into experimenting with alternative grain flours.

Excerpted, with permission, from The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less by April Peveteaux, © 2015

   Alternative Grain Flours
Cooking gluten-free is just like cooking everything else . . . sometimes. To be specific, preparing naturally gluten-free foods is not an issue, but once you start experimenting with alternative flours, things can get weird. I have a few tricks to make your transition much smoother, and your cookies much tastier. The best advice I’ve ever heard, and given, is to keep experimenting in the kitchen.
  • sorghum flour
  • almond flour (a fave)
  • hazelnut flour
  • walnut flour
  • coconut flour (another fave)
  • rice flour (white, sweet, and brown)
  • tapioca flour
  • garbanzo bean flour
  • potato flour
  • soy flour
  • buckwheat (yet another favorite)
  • amaranth flour
  • millet flour (great for making a roux)
  • teff flour
  • cornmeal (has to be labeled gluten-free)

And the new kids on the block:
  • mesquite flour (mostly for adding cinnamon flavor)
  • green  banana flour

I definitely have some shopping - and experimenting - to do! Are you with me?

Lemon Bars
adapted from The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less by April Peveteaux, © 2015

This classic treat, and Mann Clan favorite, was adapted even further than just gluten-free because I was simultaneously experimenting with dairy-free! Also, I cut down on the sugar a bit because I wanted it more tart.

Ingredients
  • 1 C butter (I used a dairy-free Earth Balance)
  • 2 C + 1/4 C gluten-free flour (I used the GF King Arthur flour)
  • 1/2 C + 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • juice and zest from 2 organic Meyer lemons
  • organic powdered sugar for dusting


Procedure
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9"x13" baking pan. Place 2 C flour and 1/2 C sugar in a bowl. Rub in butter then press the dough into baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. In the meantime, make the topping. To make the lemon layer, beat together the eggs, remaining sugar, remaining flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a bowl till smooth and combined.

Pour lemon mixture over the cooked base. Bake for another 25 minutes. Leave to cool. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares.

Enter to win a copy of the book!

One of my lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy of  THE GLUTEN-FREE CHEAT SHEET: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less by April Peveteaux, courtesy of Perigee-PenguinGiveaway runs from July 3rd till August 3rd at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Perigee Books. You may find Perigee: on the web, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of THE GLUTEN-FREE CHEAT SHEET: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less by April Peveteaux to review plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for my posts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jake's Mint Julep

This is a first and I'm still in shock. My husband was in the kitchen. And he made something I'm going to share! On. My. Blog.


Let me explain: I know that my husband ate before he met me. He must have cooked, too. But in the seventeen years that we have been together, he has only cooked (not counting the grill) a handful of times.

Let's see...seventeen and a half years. That's over 6300 days. Three meals a days. That's almost twenty thousand meals. And he's only cooked five of those. Maybe. But it's not because he's unwilling; it's because I'm territorial. I've eased into letting the Kitchen Elves in. But Jake doesn't come in unless I'm too sick to stand in front of the stove!

So, while we were unpacking from our 10-day camping trip, I was downloading photos and shuffling laundry. He and the boys had Alton Brown's Good Eats going on Netflix.

"Do you have bourbon?" I heard him ask.

Yes.

"Do you have sugar?" he continued.

Yes.

"Do you want a mint julep? Alton Brown just showed me how to make one."

Okay.
Jake's Mint Julep
Click for Alton Brown's recipe: here. Unlike me, my husband can follow a recipe. Exactly.


And while he can follow the recipe, he did end up deviating for the second cocktail. He didn't think the drink was minty enough as written. Here's his slightly adapted version, AB-inspired.

Ingredients
  • 12 to 15 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 t organic granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 oz Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey (he used Knob Creek) 
  • ice cubes
  • sparkling water
  • mint sprig and flower for garnish

Procedure
Combine mint leaves and sugar in an old-fashioned glass. Muddle together so that the mint releases its oils but is still green, approximately 1 minute. 


Add in the bourbon - that "a jigger and a pony's worth" if that means anything to you! I guess I need to watch that episode of Alton Brown's show - and set aside for several minutes.


Pound ice with a rolling pin to crush slightly. Fill the glass with ice and top with a splash of sparkling water. 


Stir and garnish. Serve immediately. It was a tasty drink. I think I'll have to have Jake make me another one soon.

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