Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A lotta Spunky and a little Spicy appetizer: Scallop and Shrimp Cocktail


Recently, we had a few friends over to celebrate the beginning of summer. When planning the party menu, I wanted to have a fresh and spunky appetizer to start the evening off right. 

I came across this Shrimp and Scallop Cocktail recipe in two different food magazines and thought it would be the perfect starter.  I made one ingredient alteration, subbing out the serrano chile pepper for a seeded jalapeno to be a bit more kid-friendly but still maintaining the terrific flavor.

The appetizer turned out great and the party was a blast...good friends, good food, good memories.

Scallop & Shrimp Cocktail (adapted from May 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping & Food Network Magazines)
6-8 jumbo scallops
½ pound deveined shrimp
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup clam-tomato juice (Clamato)
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp. hot sauce
ground black pepper

1. Bring pot of water to a boil, add scallops and shrimp, cook for about 2 minutes; drain, quarter scallops and peel shrimp; allow both to cool completely.
2. Combine onion, clam-tomato juice, ketchup, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno and hot sauce and black pepper in a large bowl.
3. Add scallops and shrimp to cocktail sauce mixture, toss to combine and serve.
until next time...

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Monday, May 21, 2012

A Savory Splurge: Spinach, Black Bean and Feta Puff Pastry Cups


Fresh lettuces and other greens are plentiful right now at farmers markets in the area. I came across a gorgeous bunch of spinach, bought it, brought it home, and decided to make this dish using it.

The filling is so seriously nutritious with black beans, spinach, garlic, onions, lime juice and coriander- each ingredient contributing quite a healthy punch. The puff pastry shells…not so much. The way I see it, as long as there is nutritional merit to the majority of the dish, you can be a bit more liberal with a splurge ingredient like puff pastry. Of course a much healthier variation would be to spread the filling onto a whole wheat tortilla to make a burrito.

I used dry black beans from a local Missouri farm but certainly using canned black beans (or any beans for that matter) could be used.  When cooking dried black beans, I cook a big batch in a crock pot and freeze the remaining beans for later use.

Spinach, Black Bean and Feta Puff Pastry Cups
(recipe adapted from Sauce Magazine May 2012 issue)

1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 cups fresh spinach
½ tsp. ground coriander
1 cup cooked black beans
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
black pepper to taste
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
6 puff pastry cups

1. Pre-bake the puff pastry cups according to package directions.
2.  Heat oil in sauté pan; add onion, cook for about 1 minute, then add spinach, garlic and coriander, cook 2 minutes more.
3. In a food processor, pulse together the onion/spinach mixture, black beans and lime juice until just mixed. Season with pepper.
4. Spoon black bean mixture into puff pastry cups, top with feta cheese.
until next time...

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Eggs on Horseback (or whatever you call it)


A friend of mine acquired quail eggs in her weekly CSA food share and offered them to me. I was happy to take them off her hands, to find a use and to see if they tasted any different than chicken eggs. I looked up recipes calling for quail eggs, and the often suggested use was pickling the eggs, which personally does not sound very appetizing to me.
Quail Eggs from Double Star Farms, Blueford, IL
Given that the eggs are tiny and “cute” I thought it would be fun to use the eggs in a kid friendly breakfast dish. I settled on using the eggs in a recipe that reminds me of my childhood. I soon realized that this dish conveys vivid memories for many people and goes by many different names.
Great Harvest 9-Grain Bread
My mom called the dish “Eggs on Horseback” probably a derivative name from the more popular nickname “Cowboy Eggs”.  Others call the recipe “Eggs in the Hole”, “Eggs in a Basket”, “Eggs in Toast” or “Eggs in a Frame”. Still others call the dish, “Bull's Eye Eggs”, “Bird’s Nest”, “One-Eyed Jacks” or “Toad in the Hole” (although apparently “Toad in the Hole” is actually a traditional English dish comprised of sausage and Yorkshire pudding).

What did your family call this dish when you were growing up?

Eggs on Horseback (or whatever you call it)
1. Butter both sides of sliced bread
2. Make a hole in each slice of bread with a shot glass.
3. Break open quail eggs into the hole in the bread (yes of course use regular eggs if you don’t have quail eggs); salt & pepper to taste.
4. Bake in 350 oven for about 5 minutes until eggs are soft set and bread is lightly toasted.
5. Top with Smoked Salmon (or shredded cheddar); garnish with chives.

 until next time...

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Monday, May 7, 2012

A Mother Like No Other: Making Homemade Red Wine Vinegar


This Sunday is Mother’s Day- a time to honor and pay homage to the amazing women that brought each of us into the world.  This Mother’s Day let us not forget the other mother that gives us so much- the one that heightens and brightens the flavor of foods, adding a touch of acidity to really balance a dish. Of course I am taking about the mother like no other, the vinegar mother.

A vinegar “mother” is the culture starter that begets vinegar from wine or cider.  It is a cloudy, slimy, quite unsightly substance that you may have noticed at the bottom of some of your vinegar bottles before.  

Making homemade wine vinegar is easy to make and a great way to use up any leftover wine you might have. To make the vinegar: combine the vinegar mother, 16 ounces of wine and 8 ounces of water in a clean 1-gallon vessel. Cover opening with cheesecloth and place in a warm area for about 3-6 months.  Additional wine and water can be added (in the same proportion) to continue making more vinegar.

My resulting red wine vinegar batch turned out terrific and I used some of it in the recipe below. Of course you can use store-bought red wine vinegar instead to make this dish.  

Tossed Salad with Feta, Roasted Red Peppers & Toasted Walnuts in a Homemade Vinegar Dressing

To make the dressing: mix together 2 Tbsp. each red wine vinegar and olive oil.
Combine: 1 cup chopped roasted red peppers, ½ cup toasted walnuts, ¾ cup feta cheese, and lettuce; toss to combine, season with pepper to taste

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and
until next time...

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