Moroccan Shrimp and Red Onion Sauté

Lately, I’ve had trouble finding recipes to get really pumped about. With that being said, I’m the proud owner of a pretty extensive collection of cookbooks (for a 23 year-old at least), with cookbooks ranging from the South Carolina Wildlife Cookbook, which includes great tips and recipes for cooking anything from deer to snapping turtle to beaver, to one on Lebanese classics and comfort food. My favorite cookbooks tend to be Australian; the Aussies have a penchant for great Asian fusion as well as English classics. Despite my plethora of options for finding ideas, I rarely actually use recipes. Instead, I pour through about 5 cookbooks at a time and get ideas for flavor combinations that will work. 

Last night, while trying to decide what to do with the pound of shrimp I had just purchased, I stumbled upon a great recipe in one of my go-to cookbooks. If you do not own The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh, you must find it ASAP. This gem includes 1100 recipes that are quick, easy to follow and cover a spread of ethnic and American flavor palettes. 

The recipe for Moroccan Shrimp and Red Onion Sauté is so vibrant and full of spice – not the hot kind of spice but the delicious, fragrant kind. I served it atop roasted chick peas and brown rice but lentils and greens would be just lovely as well. Whatever you choose to serve with it, be sure it simply seasoned – this dish calls for subtle sides the balance it’s dynamism.

Fast Easy Fresh

Moroccan Shrimp and Red Onion Sauté

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger (I subbed Gourmet Garden ginger in equal quantity and I honestly don’t think it made any difference)
2 teaspoons hot chili sauce (ex. Sriracha)
12 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left intact
1 red onion, halved, peeled, each half cut into 4 wedges through root end
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (for serving)

Ingredients

Toast coriander seeds, cardamom seeds and cumin in small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, shaking skillet, about 1 minute.

Toasting Spices

Coarsely grind spices in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (or just crush spices with the end of a wooden spoon). Transfer to large bowl; mix in oil, ginger, chili sauce, cinnamon and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp and onion; toss to coat.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until blackened in spots, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes.

       Red Onion in PanRaw Shrimp Added to PanAll Cooked in Pan

Add shrimp and marinade; sauté until just cooked through; about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp and onion to plate. Top with cilantro. 

Served

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Poached Shrimp with Warm Fennel & Beet Salad

Served - Adjusted

After a few days of slackened attention to healthful eating, last night’s dinner was refreshingly light and flavorful. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m a huge fan of beets. I’m such a huge fan, I’ve been purchasing two bunches each week, slicing, roasting and using to snack on at work. With fresh shrimp sitting in my refrigerator for two days, I had no choice but to make something shrimp-y and I had just so happened to have a hankering beets, fennel and shrimp – all together.

Shrimp is one of those things a person has to like for me to be friends with them and even for non-shrimp lovers, it’s hard to resist fresh Lowcountry shrimp. We’re kind of known for it, i.e. shrimp and grits. All too many people prefer their shrimp fried which often ruins the delicate, sweet simplicity of this fruits de mer. I, on the other hand, adore poached shrimp. As opposed to boiling, which is an all too violent approach to shrimp, poaching gently simmers your desired food item in just about any liquid found to be palatable. Typically, I poach shrimp in butter and sauvignon blanc, but wanted something a little different this time. I chose to poach in a coconut milk combination which yielded such subtly vibrant flavor. 

I have to admit that I’m terrible at measuring ingredients. Mostly, I eyeball anything I can and operate in the kitchen with a monitor-and-adjust attitude. Take this ‘recipe’ with that in mind. Taste it as you make it so you’re finished product is to your liking. 

PS – the leftover poaching liquid made a great base for a Tom Kha-ish soup! 

Poached Shrimp

1 lb. fresh shrimp, deveined 
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup sodium-free stock
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T fresh basil, chopped
1/2 T lemongrass paste

  • Combine all ingredients except shrimp in a pot. Stir and thoroughly combine. Slowly bring to a simmer.
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  • Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, turn off heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Bring poaching liquid back to a simmer and add shrimp, leaving peel (you can remove after poaching). Keep a watchful eye over the shrimp and remove from liquid as soon as it is just barely cooked. 
  • I warmed a large kale leaf in a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil, served the shrimp atop the leaf and poured a little poaching liquid on top.

Warm Fennel and Beet Salad

1 large beet, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 bulb fennel, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
splash lemon juice

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  • In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. 
  • Add sliced beet and cook for a about 3-5 minutes or until just softened. 
  • Add minced garlic and sliced fennel and cook until the fennel gains translucence. The beet will make the fennel a lovely shade of magenta. 
  • Add a splash of lemon juice, stir to combine and serve alongside the coconut milk poached shrimp. 

    Wanna know a secret? When I made this last night, I accidentally added a much too large splash of lemon juice and it ended a little too tart for my liking. Don’t do what I did. Be conservative with your splash and only add more if you think it needs it.

Served - Adjusted

The little bit of a tan in the top corner, that’s a PBR. Yep, Pabst Blue Ribbon. I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s still my everyday beer of choice, Caleb’s too.

 

 

 

 

Chilled Cucumber Soup

I’m a huge fan of just about any cold soup. Vichyssoise speaks to my soul and any sort of gazpacho is a regular summer craving of mine. With an excess of cucumber in my refrigerator, kindly given to me by Caleb’s mother from their garden, I couldn’t think of a better way utilize the cukes than a summer soup. I’ve been eating a variety of cucumber salads since spring and thought I should change it up. There are so many cool cucumber soup recipes floating around and while they’re all similar, they tend to differ slightly when it comes to flavor and quantity used. After reading over twenty recipes I whipped this up. Like most things I come up with, this is easily altered to suit individual taste; simply add, omit, increase or decrease desired herbs and you’ll have a new concoction. My end result is well balanced and somewhat on the Thai side of the flavor spectrum.

Chilled Cucumber Soup
5-6 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
2 small banana peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced
2 c plain Greek yogurt
1 T lemongrass paste
1 T basil
1 T dill
1 T mint
Ingredients

  • In blender or food processor combine half of cucumbers, half of yogurt and 1 pepper. Pulse on high until well combined.
  • Add in herbs. Combine.
  • Add remaining cucumbers, yogurt and pepper.  Pulse until thoroughly blended.
  • Chill for at least two hours or until cool.
  • I chose to serve with a spoonful of coconut milk and chopped canary melon.Served

Roasted Beet Sauce with Penne

Beets really get a bad wrap. I was introduced to them as a child in canned form. The kind you find at buffet salad bars. Not at all a good representation of this vibrant root vegetable. Until a few years ago, I thought beets were gross. Like all foods I dislike, I make it my mission to find a way in which I might enjoy or at least appreciate that which I found distasteful. My beet journey began with beet and lemon filled ravioli and from there to beet and chèvre crostini with honey-orange glaze and beet gnocchi. Beets are truly a lovely vegetable. They can be manipulated in so many ways and offer such beautiful jewel-toned hues to any dish. This roasted beet sauce could be altered in many ways to suite individual taste and could be served with any pasta. I think it would go especially well served chunky atop pork tenderloin.

Give this sauce a try. It makes for a lovely plate.

Beets and Garlic

Roasted Beet Sauce with Penne
8 oz whole pasta, such as penne
5-6 medium beets, washed and chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 T orange-infused olive oil
¼ c light red wine, such as Beaujolais
1 T herbes de provençe blend (including lavender)
salt, to taste
splash lemon juice
splash cream, optional
freshly shaved Parmesan
Freshly chopped basil, optional

Heat oven to 400°F.

  • Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and set aside.
  • Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and chopped beets and garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes or until fork-tender.
    Beets, Garlic with Olive Oil
  • In a blender or food processor, add cooked beets, garlic and Beaujolais. Combine until smooth.
  • In a medium saucepan, add herbes de provence and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add a splash of lemon juice, stir. If desired also a splash of cream for richness. Salt to taste.
    Sauce in Pot
  • Use reserved pasta water to stretch, if needed.
  • Pour sauce over pasta and stir until thoroughly dispersed.
  • Serve hot, topped with shaved parm and chopped basil.
    Plated

Zucchini-Shrimp Lasagna

Oh the possibilities when cooking with zucchini… The almost continual supply of zucchini in my refrigerator has meant it is served multiple times a week. I can throw it in anything to add substance and it has such a wonderful meatiness that makes it superbly versatile. Last week’s zucchini star in my kitchen was zucchini lasagna. It seems that everyone and their mother has a zucchini lasagna recipe so here is my version.

Zucchini-Shrimp Lasagna

6-9 lasagna pasta, cooked until almost al dente
3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 cups spinach leaves
2-3 cups pink sauce (I made my own using fresh diced tomatoes, onions, white wine, fresh basil, cream, etc.)
16 oz. ricotta
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 oz. fresh mozzarella
½ lb shrimp, cooked until almost done, I prefer to boil or poach
1/3 c shaved Parmesan

Pink Sauce Ingredients

Heat oven to 375°F.
1. Prep all above-listed ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta with egg. Set aside.
2. Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish.
3. On top of the sauce, arrange 3-4 lasagna. The number used will depend on the size of the pasta you are using.
4. Next, add an even layer of spinach. Then, arrange the sliced zucchini on top of the spinach. Follow with a layer of shrimp.
photo 3
5. Spread ricotta mixture on top of shrimp and then top with tomato sauce.
6. Repeat layering process.
7. The final layer should be topped with sliced fresh mozzarella and Parmesan.
8. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.
9. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

And of course, I forgot to take a picture of the final product. Shame on me. It did look quite pretty though. The bonus to this dish is that it fed Caleb and I for about 3 days and it tastes even better the next day.

Tuna Tacos – Fourth of July Weekend Part I

For a person who likes to spend hours in the kitchen making dinner, quick on the go meals can be challenging. This three day weekend has been full of friends, errands, vet visits and fireworks, leaving little time for cooking. With that said, I wasn’t unsatisfied with what I threw together.

Between running errands on Saturday, I fixed up tuna tacos. I simply seared a couple tuna steaks, pulled apart the cooked tuna and served atop kale, cucumber and sliced avocado, then topped with plain yogurt (I prefer Fage), diced yellow tomatoes, shredded Mexican cheese and salsa. As with anything you eat, the fresher the better; I wouldn’t touch this if it was made with canned tuna.

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Squash-Chèvre Stacks

This week’s trip to the farmer’s market sent me home with a nearly endless supply of yellow squash, simply because I couldn’t resist it. Not wanting to slice it up and sauté it, I felt I hit a squash roadblock. I made great stuffed squash about a month ago but really wanted to keep the entirety of the squash intact so stuffing was out of the question. After searching Pinterest for about an hour, I had gotten nowhere. Then, I suddenly remembered the eggplant, mozzarella and tomato stacks that I find so tasty and the following recipe came to me.

Ingredients:

photo 4

8 yellow squash, necks cut and halved lengthwise
2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
8 oz. chèvre (I used a rosemary chèvre)
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
10-15 Tuscan kale leaves, rinsed and whole
1 T olive oil with orange
½ c water
Shaved Parmesan or other hard cheese

  1. Set oven to 425 F.
  2. Add 2 T olive oil to a large pan and heat over medium-high. Once oil has heated, add garlic and sauté for about 2-3 minutes. Add halved squash, flesh side down. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until squash just begins to brown.
    photo 3
  3. Line baking pan with foil and spray with coconut oil or other cooking spray. Arrange squash, flesh side up, on pan.
  4. Spread desired amount of chèvre on squash and then layer one tomato slice atop each squash half.
  5. Add shaved parmesan to top of each stack.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes or until parmesan begins to golden. If desired, sparingly sprinkle with sea salt.
    photo 1
  7. While squash is baking, add water to the same pan used for squash. Add kale to pan, drizzle with orange olive oil. Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. To serve, plate the kale and top with desired number of squash stacks.

This made for a colorful and hearty dish served with bourbon-marinated ribeyes, meaning Caleb got a huge ribeye and a few squash stacks and I had about four of these and a 4 oz. steak.

photo 2

Southern Caprese

Caprese is possibly one of the best little things you can throw together in five minutes or less that tastes spectacular and is a feast for the eyes. The key to a good caprese is quality, fresh ingredients. Don’t go cheap on the mozz and use the freshest tomatoes you can. And make sure your extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar are up to par.

I just adore green tomatoes and the market just happens to provide me plump and delicious ones in the late spring/early summer. I get bored easily so I couldn’t bring myself to make the typical fried green tomatoes. I had a vague recollection of seeing a green tomato caprese in some food magazine and decided it would make for the perfect light lunch. My tomatoes were from Johns Island and the mozzarella from the Charleston Artisan Cheese House.

Here’s the recipe:

2 large green tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 T brown sugar
About 1 lb fresh mozzarella (keep refrigerated until ready to slice)
Whole basil leaves (large)
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a bowl combine olive oil, balsamic, brown sugar, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. Add sliced tomatoes and make sure all are thoroughly covered by the vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
4. Remove basil leaves from stalks and rinse.
5. Remove tomatoes from refrigerator and grill tomatoes for three minutes on each side. (If a grill is not available, feel free to use a pan for the same amount of time.)
6. Slice mozzarella.
7. On a serving dish, evenly arrange the warm tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, removing the tomatoes from the bowl one at a time. Tomato, mozz, basil.
8. Drizzle with some of the remaining vinaigrette.
9. Serve immediately. Great served with sliced French bread.

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(Note: I had to cheat and use tubed basil  because I ran out of fresh leaves. However, it is best when made with whole basil leaves.)

Summer Fruit Cheesecake Pie

Most of the things I make are unplanned and I have a habit of making delicious concoctions that I never record and thus can never quite replicate in their original perfection. Hopefully this blog will remedy this problem. I’m notorious for eye-balling my measurements so if that part isn’t listed, don’t be think I forgot.

I spent this past weekend at my future in-laws home in Waxhaw, NC. They grow vegetables, have a number of fruit trees and raise a good many chickens. Since my favorite Saturday morning activity is exploring the farmers market, I ventured to the little one in Waxhaw. Although it is very small, I didn’t leave without some yummy treasures; the star being white peaches. Since I cook when I’m bored (or happy, sad, angry or basically any old time) and my Mr. Wonderful was busy staining my bench for our dining set, I decided I’d make a pie.


 

Ingredients

2 peaches (1 chopped, 1 sliced)

2 cups raspberries

8 oz cream cheese

Honey

Fresh mint

Bourbon

2 jumbo organic eggs

Whipping cream

Pie crust (homemade is always best but store-bought will work just fine)

How To:

– Bake crust for 15 minutes at 325.

– In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, honey and eggs.

–  Add peaches and bourbon. Thoroughly combine.

– Stir in raspberries.

– Bake at 325 for 25 minutes or until done (cheesecake-like texture).

– Cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

– Whip cream and then add in honey until well mixed. Chop mint and stir in.

– Cover pie with whipped cream and garnish with sliced peaches and a few sprigs of fresh mint.

– Cover and refrigerate.

It is best served the next day and just so happens to be the perfect summer pie.

 

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