Monday, February 17, 2014

Roasted Sesame Shrimp

Hello!  It's been so long since I've seen you, I have been such a negligent blogger....  But I am back now, with a delicious roasted shrimp recipe that I created myself based entirely on things I had in the pantry because I could not bring myself to go to the grocery store with everyone else in the world who had off today.  My sister introduced me to roast shrimp and I must say it is one of my favorite cooking methods for them now.  They are perfectly done in 10 minutes and you don't have to fuss with them at all.  I made these to put on some sesame peanut noodles (I am still perfecting that recipe, I'll post it after I am done playing around with it some) but they would be tasty on their own or over rice or on a salad or anywhere else you like to put your shrimp.  They are a little salty and a little sweet and perfect.

It's a super simple process, mix the marinade ingredients, toss the shrimp in, stir to coat and then put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  If you are feeling lazy, put tinfoil down first so you don't have to scrub the pan later.

Roast for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, or until they are pink and cooked through.  After I took them out of the oven I kept popping them in my mouth as I was finishing up my noodles...

Put on sesame peanut noodles, or wherever you wish and enjoy!

Roasted Sesame Shrimp
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove of garlic, minced or grated
1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fermented soybean paste (I bought this because I figured it was basically miso, but the only English on the package says "fermented soybean paste, refrigerate after opening" so I'm not 100% sure what it is)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled
sesame seeds for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix first together 6 ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the shrimp.
Stir the shrimp in with the marinade ingredients, let sit in the fridge for up to 30 minutes, or skip that step and put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with the sesame seeds if desired.
Roast for 10 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches

It's time to go back to school, which means my lazy mornings of sleeping in and lingering over multiple cups of coffee are over.  It also means that I have to start eating an actual breakfast again.  I'm very particular about my workday breakfasts, I must be able to eat it with one hand while I am driving without making a mess of myself (I have my priorities in the morning, mainly sleep).  These english muffin breakfast sandwiches are perfect for that, plus I can make a bunch at once and keep them in the freezer.  You hardly need a recipe for this, but I'll give you one anyways because that is just the kind of girl I am.  You can make these a million different ways, this is just the basic framework to work from.  A note on turkey bacon, I am opposed to the principle of it and usually call it facon and don't eat it.  BUT something about freezing turkey bacon sits better with me than freezing regular bacon so I use it here, feel free to use regular bacon, or sausage patties or omit the meat all together.    

Start by baking you eggs and bacon, I bake my eggs in well greased ramekins and my (turkey) bacon on a silpat mostly because it's easier to clean that way.  You could add anything you like to your egg cups, salsa, herbs, spinach, peppers, or you could scramble them instead of baking if you like, but my ramekins are nearly the exact circumference of your average english muffin and thus you end up with a perfect egg to bread ratio without even thinking about it so I usually bake the eggs.  

Next you assemble, I make 6 sandwiches at a time because english muffins come in packs of 6 and I have 6 ramekins.  If you are eating it right away, toast the english muffin first, but otherwise don't bother.  I like to spread out all of my english muffins on the counter, each on top of their own rectangle of saran warp and then deal out the fillings.

Cheese is delicious and should always be included in the sammie, I like 2 slices, so it doesn't get too gooey.  Cheddar is good, as is pepper jack, as are most cheeses, now that I think about it.

Top the cheese with an egg.  I have a itty bitty offset spatula that I use to pop them out of their ramekins.  It's adorable and has polka dots on it.

Top with facon, I do 1 slice per sammie, or if I am feeling particularly decadent (or want to get rid of my facon) 2.

Wrap tightly and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  When you are ready to eat, unwrap the plastic, wrap loosely in a paper towel and zap it then flip it over and zap it a bit more until it's hot and the cheese is melty.  This may have more to do with the quirks of my particular microwave, but I find it so much easier to heat them when I have let it thaw overnight in the fridge, it is faster and the egg doesn't get weird and overcooked.

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches
makes 6

6 english muffins
6 eggs
12 slices cheese of your choice
6 slices turkey bacon
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350
Grease 6 ramekins and crack an egg into each one, top with salt and pepper.  Place all the ramekins in a large baking dish and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the yolks are set (depending on how wide your ramekins are this may take more or less time).
Meanwhile, place the bacon in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake until it is crisp, about 10 minutes.
When the eggs and bacon are done, split your english muffins in half and fill each sandwich with 2 slices of cheese, one egg and one slice of bacon.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock bag in the freezer, or eat immediately.  
The day before you want to eat your frozen sandwich pop it in the fridge to defrost.  When it is defrosted, wrap in a paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds, flip it over and microwave it for 30 more seconds or until it is heated through, depending on your microwave.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pimiento Cheese

I have a bit of a southern streak in that I have a love of southern food that might make you think I grew up much father below the Mason-Dixon line than is actually the case.  On our way down to Bald Head Island this summer, my family stopped for lunch at Wilbur's, which is a restaurant on the historic North Carolina barbecue trail (when I found out about that, I decided that I probably needed to incorporate more of them into my future NC road trips, not that I have any of those planned but still...).  Anyways, a pitcher of sweet tea, a bottomless basket of hush puppies and a plate of pulled pork and I was a happy camper.  I feel the same way about fried green tomatoes (it totally counts as a vegetable right?  It's even green), biscuits and gravy, and pimiento cheese.  It may not be pretty or sophisticated or in any way healthy but it is delicious and some days isn't that what really matters?  This pimiento cheese was not something that I was going to blog about, because honestly, grated cheese mixed with mayo isn't exactly photogenic nor is it the easiest thing to write about and make it sound as good as it is.  Because it is good, the flavors work so well together, the worcestershire and grated onion give it a little tang and the pimentos add some color and you can eat it on crackers or add it to a grilled cheese or mix it into macaroni and cheese and before you know it the entire bowl is gone and you are trying to figure out when you can make it again, even though you realize that maybe eating a pound of cheese in less than a week may not have been the healthiest choice but it was probably the most tasty.  It is also dead easy, I feel almost feel a bit silly giving you this recipe.  But to get back to the point, I was going to keep the pimiento cheese as my dirty little secret, so I just jotted down the recipe in my recipe book and didn't bother noting where I found it, but then decided I needed to share it, and so I have no idea where this recipe came from, sorry about that.

Start out by mixing together the mayo, diced pimientos, worcestershire sauce, grated onion and a dash of cayenne.  

Now for the difficult part (it's really not that bad and I think you could make it even easier by using a food processor to grate the cheese).  Grate 8 oz. of sharp cheddar and 8 oz. of extra sharp cheddar.  I don't know how to discuss the gauge of cheese grating options, but my Ikea cheese grater has two options, one with regular size holes and one with smaller holes, you do one block of cheese on the regular holes and one on the smaller holes.  And yes, grating the cheese on the smaller holes takes longer and gets tedious, consider yourselves warned.    

Stir the cheese into the mayo mixture and enjoy, it will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Pimiento Cheese

1 1/2 cup mayo
4 oz. diced pimientos
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. finely grated onion
dash cayenne
8 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar, finely grated

Mix the mayo, pimientos, worcestershire sauce, onion and cayenne together until well mixed.  Stir in the cheese.  Store in a covered container up to one week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A new kitchen

Hello dear readers, as many of you already know, I have moved into an adorable new apartment!  Naturally the kitchen was the first thing I sorted out, the rest of the place is either a mess (my bedroom) or empty (my living room).  While I will miss having my sous chef on hand to delegate to, and being able to put anything on the grocery list and having it appear every weekend in the kitchen, I am excited about striking out on my own.  And with that independence comes a tighter budget and more planning.  In the coming weeks look out for budget friendly meals and my cooking for one experiments (seeing how well individual portions of some of my favorites freeze and just how many days of leftovers I can stand and for when I realize that day was yesterday, where within walking distance has the best happy hour).                                

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bread and Butter Pickles

Every once in awhile I read a recipe and I just know that I HAVE to make it, even if I have not previously been that excited about that particular food before.  And usually it turns out that I adore whatever it is that I have made and wonder why it has taken me so long to come around to it.  Sometimes, something about reading about the ingredients and how they come together changes something from so-so into yum for me and these bread and butter pickles were one of those.  Before I read this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I would rather chow down on a nice salty dill pickle and while I would eat a bread and butter one, the sweetness was always mildly startling.  Now, I have a rapidly dwindling jar of b&b's in the fridge because I can't stop snacking on them and have made everyone who sets foot in my house try them.  These pickles are salty and sweet and crunchy and tangy and delicious and as refrigerator pickles are quick to make and don't require proper canning.  
Technically you should make these with kirby cucumbers, or some other small pickling cucumber, but they didn't have those at Safeway, so I just used 4 of the smallest of the regular cucumbers they had and it worked out just fine.  Wash the cukes and slice them into 1/4 inch coins and thinly slice 1/2 of a sweet onion.

Mix the cucumbers, onion and salt together, then let sit for 2 hours.  Smitten Kitchen tells you to put ice on top of the mixture, but as I read after I made them you could ditch the ice and just pop the bowl in the fridge which is what I will be doing next time.

After your cuckes have sat for 2 hours, mix the sugar, turmeric, celery seeds, mustard seeds, coriander and vinegar together and bring to a boil.

Drain the cucumbers, tossing any ice that is left.

Add the cucumbers to the vinegar mixture and bring it almost back up to a boil then take it off the heat.

Put the whole mess (pickles, onions, vinegar and spices) in a jar and enjoy within 3 weeks.

The full recipe can be found on Smitten Kitchen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie

This past weekend we went to visit our family in the country.  We spent a lovely afternoon sitting on my aunt's deck snacking on vichyssoise and pasta salad with homegrown vegetables, staying out of the range of my cousins water guns (or attempting to anyways) and generally enjoying ourselves.  And then it was time for dessert.  When we suggested this get together, in order to sweeten the deal, I offered to make my coconut cream pie.  The beauty of this pie is that you can make it ahead of time, and it is super easy to make it gluten free without sacrificing the taste or the texture of the crust.  If you don't have any gluten restrictions feel free to replace the brown rice flour and the cornstarch with regular flour, which is what the original recipe calls for.  This pie is not difficult to make, but it DOES require some advance planing, the crust needs to chill out in the fridge on two separate occasions and all the components need to cool entirely before you can put them together.  But it is worth it, I think my uncle put it best, he took one bite looked up and said "Damn, that's good pie." 
Pulse the dry ingredients for the crust, I always find the descriptions of what the crumbs are supposed to look like somewhat unhelpful, but basically you want the butter chunks to all be broken up.

Then you slowly add the water, the dough will not turn into a nice cohesive ball, but when you smush it with your fingers it will hold together.  When it has reached this stage you chill it in plastic for an hour.

After it has taken a nice rest in the fridge, press it into the pan, don't even bother trying to roll it out, especially with the brown rice flour in the crust.  Then you have to chill it again before you bake it.  After you bake it it will have a nice toasty brown color.

Meanwhile you can start in on the custard.  Mix up the eggs, sugar and cornstarch so they can come up to room temperature while the milk heats up, I have a theory this helps when you temper them although I have no idea if that is actually true.

Then you heat up the milk with the coconut and vanilla bean (if you don't have vanilla beans you can substitute a splash of vanilla extract).  Next you temper the eggs and add them back into the milk so that they don't scramble.  And then you whisk.  And whisk.  Every time I feel like it is taking forever and maybe something went wrong and it is never going to thicken properly and right around that point it always comes together and starts looking more like pudding and less like milk with coconut floating in it.

When it is properly thick, cool it down over an ice bath.  This is delicious just as it is at this point, but it is even better in the pie crust.  Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

The day you are going to serve it pour the custard into the crust and put plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard until right before you serve it.  

Top the custard with a thick layer of whipped cream and liberally sprinkle with the toasted coconut and white chocolate shavings, slice and enjoy! 

Coconut Cream Pie (I have no idea where I found this recipe, but whoever I got it from adapted it from Tom Douglas's Seattle Kitchen and I adapted it from theirs to make it gluten free)

For the coconut crust:
1 cup + 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup cold butter, diced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ice water, more if needed

For the coconut cream:
2 cups milk
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 vanilla bean, split with the beans scraped out
2 eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
1/4 cup softened butter

For the whipped cream:
half pint of heavy cream
sugar to taste

For the garnish:
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
2 oz. white chocolate, shaved

Making the crust:
Blitz everything but the water in a food processor until the mix resembles small pebbly crumbs.  Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing in between additions, until the dough holds together when you press it with your fingers.
Dump dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap it up and pop it in the fridge for an hour.
Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan and press the dough in, evenly covering the bottom and sides of the pan. Pop it back in the fridge for another hour.
Cover the crust with tin foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden.  Remove the foil and weights and continue baking for about 10 more minutes to lightly brown the center.
Cool completely.

Making the coconut cream:
Whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornstarch and set aside.
In a medium saucepan combine the milk, coconut and vanilla bean (seeds and pod) and bring almost to a boil, over medium-high heat.
Scoop out about 1/3 cup of the hot milk mixture and add to the eggs, whisking constantly.
Slowly pour the warmed up egg mix into the saucepan with the rest of the milk, whisking constantly.  Whisk over medium-high heat until the custard is very thick and starts to bubble, about 8 min.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter and take out the vanilla pod.
Cool custard over an ice bath, stirring occasionally.  When cool, put plastic wrap directly on the surface to stop a skin from forming and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the pie.

Making the whipped cream:
With a whisk or mixer whip the cream with sugar until it forms soft peaks.

Making the garnish:
Toast the coconut on a cookie sheet at 350, stirring it every few minutes until most of it is a light golden color and all of it is crispy.  Careful, it burns easily.
Make the chocolate shavings with a veggie peeler.

Assembling the pie:
The various components can be made a day ahead of time, but don't assemble them until the day you want to eat the pie, and don't do the whipped cream and garnishes until right before serving.  Put the filling in the crust, top with the whipped cream right before serving and then sprinkle the whipped cream with the toasted coconut and white chocolate.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Malted Milk Ice Cream Cake with Blackberry Sauce

For Mother's Day my sister and I made brunch, we pretty much copied the Mother's Day brunch menu from A Cup of Jo, and it was delicious.  However, for Father's Day we decided to make dinner and unfortunately Joanna Goddard did not oblige us with a complete dinner menu to draw from.  Fortunately my sister had some apps she wanted to try out (pear slices with goat cheese and craisins), and a limoncello cocktail (lemonade for grownups) and we have our Sister Shrimp Pasta that is always a hit.  As for dessert, well I took that on.  I was going to make a truly decadent coconut cream pie, BUT we ended up picking up a friends CSA share for that week (thanks Lisa!), a box full of the most delicious strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries and the coconut cream pie idea went out the window because I needed to make something involving berries in some way.  Which is where this ice cream cake comes in.  You make a thin cake layer, top it off with malted milk ice cream, then drench each slice with blackberry sauce.
The recipe calls for homemade malted milk ice cream, and while I have an ice cream maker, I also have a family that let out a collective shudder at the thought of using 11 egg yolks in a single item, so instead I used store bought french vanilla ice cream, which I'm sure also has egg yolks in it, but I have no idea just how many and ignorance is bliss.  Anyways, I softened the ice cream in the fridge for about 5 minutes and then mixed in 3/4 cup of malted milk powder, the chocolate flavor as that was all I could find.  The mixing was a pain, so I left as more of a "swirl" aka I got tired and decided it was mixed enough and put it back in the freezer until I needed it again.

Then I moved on to the cake, it was a pretty basic yellow cake but with tiny portions because you are only making one 1/2 inch layer, it was like baking for an Easy Bake Oven.  The recipe said to sift the dry ingredients 3 times, which I think we can all agree is a bit excessive and in protest I didn't sift them at all.  I noticed no ill effects from the lack of sifting, but then again, I probably wouldn't, I hardly ever sift.  You bake the cake in a spring form pan for about 15 minutes, and you may want to put the pan on a cookie sheet when you bake it in case your spring form pan doesn't have the tightest seal and some starts leaking out.  Just a suggestion.

Once the cake is cool, soften the ice cream again and spread it over the cake, leaving the sides on the pan for the time being.  Pop it back in the freezer, you can leave it in the freezer for a few days at this point.

Now, onto the blackberry sauce, take 1/2 of your huge luscious blackberries, 1/2 cup of water, 6 tablespoons of sugar (or more depending on how tart your berries are) and boil them together.

You may may to mash some of the berries with a fork to help them along, when they are adequately saucy, take the pan off the heat and stir in the rest of the berries.  My berries were huge so I mashed them once or twice with a potato masher to incorporate them into the sauce a bit more. 

To serve, take the ring off and slice the cake, topping with plenty of blackberry sauce and enjoy!

Malted Milk Ice Cream Cake with Blackberry Sauce, from Bon Appetit 
For the cake:
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temp
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk.  Pour into a spring form pan and bake for 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  If you quite particular you can shave off the top of the cake when it is done to make it an even 1/2 inch all around.  I am not.

For the ice cream:
1.5 quarts vanilla ice cream
3/4 cup malted milk powder

Soften ice cream in fridge for about 5-10 minutes, until it is soft enough to work with but not melted.  Mix in malted milk powder and return to freezer.  Alternately, make it from scratch from this recipe.

For the blackberry sauce:
2 pints blackberries
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons sugar

Mix the sugar, water and 1 pint blackberries in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, mashing the berries as necessary, until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the berries, cool.

Assembling the cake:
Top the cake with the ice cream and return to freezer.  When ready to serve remove the sides of the pan, slice the cake and top with the blackberry sauce.