Thursday, June 30, 2011

Frozen Treats Week#4: Zoku Quick Pops Cookbook Review, Homemade Fudge Pops, and Peanut Butter Quick Shell

A few weeks ago I bought some new tools for my Zoku Quick Pop Maker, along with the new Zoku Quick Pops Cookbook.  Last year when I first bought the Zoku Quick Pop Maker I had some trouble unmolding my pops and I was hopeful that the Zoku book would include great recipes and helpful hints to solve my problems.  The book itself is full of information about the quick pop maker, as well as the accessories.  It provides lists of ingredients that work well with the Zoku, as well as tips about creating layers, adding extras, adding fruit, and making quick shells.  
 Zoku Quick Pops
95 pages

The chapters with recipes include:
Fresh & Fruity:  Includes all sorts of fruity favorites like watermelon, caramelized banana, black raspberry, and pink mojito.

I Scream for Quick Pops!:  This chapter includes lots of ice pops made out of ice cream. Some of the ones I'd like to try are the Tartufo, Butter Pecan, Pistachio, Cookie Dough, and Cookies & Cream

Bake ShopFun recipes based on all your favorite baked goods like pumpkin pie, strawberry shortstops, key lime pie, and even a carrot cake quick pop.

Coco Loco:  Recipes to satisfy your chocolate cravings.  Everything ranging from the classic fudge pop, to nutty chocolate pretzel pops, s'more pops, peanut butter & jelly pops and malted milk ball pops

All in all, I'd say this is a very kid-friendly cookbook. My four year old son carries it around constantly, begging me to make him every quick pop in the book.  I finally got him to narrow down his choices and he settled on the fudge pops.

Oh, Fudge!
Adapted from Zoku Quick Pop Cookbook
Yields 6  
1 cup water
2-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup 2% milk
1 tablespoon half & half
In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk together the water, chocolate, sugar, and salt until the chocolate has completly melted (do not boil) and chocolate granules have dissolved, about 5 minutes (test by dipping a clean spoon into the mixture; if you don't see many chocolate specks, it's ready to come off the heat).  Let cool slightly (about 10 minutes).  Whisk in the milk and half & half.  Refrigerate until cool.
Insert sticks into the pop maker molds and pour the cooled chocolate base until you reach the fill line.  Let freeze completely, then remove pops with the Super Tool and enjoy.  Repeat with remaining pops.  Alternatively, you can fill standard pop molds and store in the freezer until frozen.
Peanut Butter Quick Shell
Adapted from Zoku Quick Pop Cookbook
Yields 2/3 cup

1/3 smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup refined coconut oil

In a double boiler over barely simmering water, whisk together the peanut butter and coconut oil until warmed through and mixed thoroughly.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely before using.

How to Store:  Pour quick shell into airtight, microwave-safe container; store in the fridge for up to three weeks.  Quick shell will harden when cold so you will need to reheat it in short increments at half power or sit the container in a bath of hot water for a few minutes.

Notes/Results:  I have to say that I have mixed feelings about the Zoku book.  The book itself is beautiful and done well, but the recipes weren't my favorite.  The fudge pop came together quickly and had a good flavor pre-freeze.  However, after freezing in the Zoku, the fudge pops had a very strange texture.  They looked great, and they unmolded wonderfully, but they didn't taste great.  To be completely honest, we pitched them.  Yes, they were that bad.

We were positive that we would be crazy about the peanut butter quick shell, but after mixing equal parts peanut butter and coconut oil, the peanut butter flavor wasn't as pronounced as we would have liked it to be.  It's not to say that we didn't like it at all, but I probably wouldn't make it again.  I do have to admit that it was really fun to make the peanut butter quick shell.  It was definitely fun to pour the quick shell over the ice cream and watch it harden. 

I'm going to give the book a second chance and try the chocolate quick shell, as well as some of the other quick pop recipes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June French Fridays with Dorie Roundup

I dove into June's French Fridays with Dorie recipes with wild abandon.  Every single one of the recipes sounded wonderful to me: Warm Weather Vegetable Pot Au Feu, Roasted Rhubarb, Jam and Cola Ribs and the one that I wanted to make most of all....Mozzarella, Tomato, and Strawberry Salad.  Funny how things work out because I never got around to the Mozzarella, Tomato, and Strawberry Salad.  I meant to make the salad and I darn sure bought tons of strawberries, but the kids gobbled them up faster than I could put the salad together.  Seeing the kids eating piles of fresh strawberries makes me happy so I just let it be.

Dorie's Warm Weather Vegetable Pot Au Feu was absolutely amazing.  I was lucky enough to get all the vegetables fresh from the farmer's market: baby potatoes, asparagus, carrots, and spinach. On top of all the veggies and the light broth sat a perfectly poached egg.  I was truly in love with this soup.  I found it refreshing and extremely pleasant, light and yet hearty, and I really looked forward to having a bowl for lunch throughout the week. 

The minute I gazed upon this Roasted Rhubarb I was in love.  Just look at all that gorgeous pink syrup! I can't help it.  This definitely appeals to the girl in me. When I took my first bite it was like a heavenly explosion of tart juicy love.  I wanted to run to the computer and post this roasted rhubarb right away.  Who knew roasted rhubarb was such a terrific treat begging to be shared?  My original plan was to serve the roasted rhubarb on top of plain vanilla ice cream later in the evening for dessert. That never happened.  I pretty much ate it straight from the pan.  Myself.  Later that night I served my family plain vanilla ice cream.  Shhh!! 
Last up are Dorie's Cola and Jam Ribs.  I have a rib recipe that I love and I don't usually tinker around with rib recipes for that reason.  However, the ingredients in Dorie's recipe had me curious and I've read a lot of success stories regarding cola and barbecue so I thought I give it a go.  Dorie's ribs are rubbed with salt, pepper, ground ginger and Chinese five spice and then marinated in apricot jam, orange juice, and lemon juice.   They bake in the oven for around 2 hours and towards the final baking time they are basted with Coca Cola.  Very different from my standard recipe.

Let's just say that Dorie's ribs rival mine.  I loved these just as much, possibly even more, than my standard recipe.  They were fall off the bone tender with a nice bright citrusy flavor.  We really licked those bones clean.
Each of this month's recipes was a home run.  I usually select a favorite recipe for the month, but in this case I think all of them are winners and each recipe is one that I will enjoy again.  Can't wait for next month!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Frozen Treats Week #3: Pecan Vanilla Ice Cream with Maple Syrup

Okay, I totally chose this recipe because the week is quickly coming to a close and I didn't want to drop the ball.  I didn't want to drop the ball on my pledge to make a new frozen treat every week.  Nor did I want to drop the ball on making a Jamie Oliver recipe once a week as part of the I Heart Cooking Clubs group.  Saying all that, I wasn't expecting for this recipe to blow my socks off, but it did.  The caramelized sugary and maple flavored pecans are so perfect sitting on top of vanilla ice cream.  Top it all off with a drizzle of good maple syrup and it's pure heaven.  I will definitely be making this again!

Now for a confession.  I have a new addiction.  It's called Pinterest.  Have you heard of it? If not, you need to get on over there right now.  Be prepared to spend a few hours, or even all day on this site.  It's insanely addictive.  I've pinned so many ideas and recipes that I've lost count.  
 Pecan Vanilla Ice Cream with Maple Syrup
Adapted from Jamie Oliver via Food Network
Serves 4

2 tablespoons confectioners sugar (or enough to make a paste)
2 handfuls pecan nuts
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoon(s) maple extract (my addition)
1 quart good quality vanilla ice cream
maple syrup

Heat the oven to 350F.  Mix the confectioners sugar, maple extract (or flavoring) on a baking tray with a little water to make a thick-ish paste.  Add the pecans.  Bake in the oven for a few minutes (I baked mine for about 8 minutes) or until toasted and caramelized.  Scoop out the ice cream into 4 glasses or bowls and sprinkle over the whole pecans then drizzle with a good glug of maple syrup.

 Notes/Results:  Oh my...the scent when those pecans are baking is amazing! The sugary caramelized pecans and maple syrup are an insanely addictive topping for vanilla ice cream.  I used one good handful of pecans, together with about a tablespoon of maple extract, and about 4-5 tablespoons of confectioners sugar.  Jamie indicates to add water to make a paste.  I would say I used about 1 good tablespoon of water. My suggestion would be to play with the recipe until you feel comfortable that your paste is thick enough.  Absolutely delicious!

Theme: Get Fresh with Jamie!

I'm off to disappear on the Pinterest site again!  If you don't hear from me for awhile send help!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Spinach and Artichoke Mac 'n Cheese

My daughter Olivia is just starting to open up to different foods.  Last year she fell in love with green beans, so much so that she would eat an entire plate for dinner.  This winter she fell in love with Brussels sprouts.  Then this spring she fell in love with spinach and artichoke dip.  Even though spinach and artichoke dip isn't the healthiest of things I'm still thrilled about the possibilities.  When she asked me if we could make the dip at home I immediately thought of this recipe for Spinach & Artichoke Mac 'n Cheese.  This recipe combines Olivia's two favorite things: pasta and spinach & artichoke dip.  

Yes, this is a rather heavy recipe for the hot summer months.  Saying that, we don't always follow the rules of seasonal cooking.  After a day of swimming or playing outside for hours, both of my kids are totally famished and craving comfort food.  This recipe does a good job of filling up the kids (and adults too).  Because believe me, the last thing I want to hear is "I'm hungry" every single hour of the day.  That can really wear on a person.
Spinach & Artichoke Mac 'n' Cheese
Adapted from Rachel Ray's Look + Cook
Serves 6-8

1 pound whole wheat penne
2 tablespoons EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped artichokes, defrosted & drained (I used a 14 oz. can)
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted & wrung dry in a kitchen towel
Black pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded Italian Fontina cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1-1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta, salt the water, and cook the pasta to al dente.  While the pasta water comes to a boil, place a medium pot over medium-low heat with EVOO and the butter.  Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes.  Heat the broiler and position the rack in the middle of the oven.  Turn up the heat under the pot to medium-high and sprinkle the flour into the pot.  Cook for about 1 minute, then whisk in the wine and cook for another minute to burn off the alcohol.  Whisk the milk into the pan and bring up to a bubble.  Add the nutmeg, artichokes, spinach, and salt and pepper to the sauce and simmer until thickened and the vegetables are warmed through, 2-3 minutes more.  Add 1 cup of each of the cheeses to the sauce and stir until melted.  Toss the prepared sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a casserole dish.  Sprinkle the remaining Fontina and Parmigiano over the top and brown under the broiler for about 3 minutes.

Notes/Results:  Very reminiscent of spinach and artichoke dip, this pasta is rich, satisfying, ultimately creamy, and delicious!  Rachel's recipe indicates that it serves four, but this recipe makes so much that it would easily serve 6-8.  I should note that the fontina cheese called for in the recipe is somewhat expensive, but in the end I really do think that it's the fontina that makes the recipe so creamy.  Totally worth the splurge!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Crispy and Sticky Chicken Thighs with Squashed New Potatoes and Tomatoes

Happy Father's Day!

My Dad is a pure joy to cook for.  He has a great love and appreciation for all food and is always quick to praise and compliment the cook.  He is easily my favorite person to cook for.  Then again, he's my favorite person all around. 

While my Dad loves and appreciates all kinds of food, I think mostly he enjoys the simple things, much like the recipe I've chosen today, crispy sticky chicken with potatoes and tomatoes.  I think he is amazed, as we all are, at how you can take just a few simple ingredients and combine them to make something mouthwatering and delicious.  I know he would love this one (especially after a good dosing of hot sauce or hot pepper flakes).  Dad loves his food extra spicy!
  Crispy & Sticky Chicken Thighs with Squashed New Potatoes and Tomatoes
Adapted from Jamie Oliver on Food Network (recipe found HERE)
Serves 4-6

1-3/4 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
12 boned chicken thighs, skin on
Olive oil 
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/4 pounds cherry tomatoes
1 bunch fresh oregano, leaves picked
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
good splash of red wine vinegar

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan of salted boiling water and boil until cooked.

While the potatoes are cooking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cut each chicken thigh into 3 strips and place in a bowl. Rub the meat all over with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss.

Heat a large frying pan, big enough to hold all the chicken pieces snugly in 1 layer, and put the chicken into the pan, skin side down. If you don't have a pan that's big enough, feel free to cook the chicken in 2 batches. Toss and fry over a high heat for 10 minutes or so, until almost cooked, then remove with a slotted spoon to an ovenproof pan or dish.

Prick the tomatoes with a sharp knife. Place them in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for a minute or so. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, pinch off their skins. You don't have to, but by doing this they will become lovely and sweet when cooked, and their intense flavor will infuse the potatoes. By now the potatoes will be cooked. Drain them in a colander and lightly crush them by pushing down on them with your thumb.

Bash up most of the oregano leaves with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar, or a Flavor Shaker if you have one. Add 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, a good splash of red wine vinegar and some pepper and give everything another bash. Add to the chicken with the potatoes, the tomatoes and the rest of the oregano leaves. Toss everything together carefully. Spread out in a single layer in an appropriately sized roasting pan, and bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven until golden.

Lovely served with an arugula salad dressed with some lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil, and a nice glass of white wine.
Notes/Results: Easy, simple, tasty,  healthy and delicious!  This is a meal the whole family would love.  We especially loved how tender and juicy the chicken was. Jamie's recipe doesn't call for onions or garlic, but I think they make a perfect addition.  I also think the squeeze of lemon at the finish really brightens up this dish nicely.  As Jamie says, this meal goes perfectly with a simple salad.
Theme: Pops is Tops!

Me, my daughter (Olivia), and my Dad @ my stepsister's wedding.  Love my Dad in that kilt!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Frozen Treats Week #2: Ice Cream S'mores Cups

I stumbled across this quick, super kid-friendly, brilliant recipe while searching for s'mores related treats and printed it immediately.  It's such a simple idea, but one that was a huge hit at my house.  A perfectly puffy golden-brown marshmallow sits skewered atop your favorite flavor of ice cream with a sprinkling of chocolate and a quick graham cracker crust.  It begs the question....why haven't I thought of this before?

 Ice Cream S'mores Cups
Adapted from Rachel Ray via Food Network
Serves 4

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
4 scoops vanilla or chocolate ice cream
1 bittersweet chocolate bar, or equivalent in chocolate chips
4 large marshmallows, or more

Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press 1/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of 4 dessert cups, lining the sides and bottom of each cup. Fill cups with vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Shave curls of bittersweet chocolate over cups using a vegetable peeler, or scatter chocolate chips on top. Thread marshmallows on to a metal skewer. Hold the skewer over a burner at high heat and toast the marshmallows. Top each cup with a toasted marshmallow and serve.
Notes/Results:  I think this is a fantastic treat that is extremely quick, kid-friendly, and delicious.  However, I do have a few suggestions.  First, and most importantly, I think you should make this with fresh homemade graham cracker crumbs.  Don't bother with the crumbs that are sold in canisters.  Secondly, in a traditional s'more, the chocolate gets all melty and therefore I think this recipe benefits from a little chocolate sauce or melted chocolate poured on top. Lastly, while both vanilla and chocolate ice cream are good options for this, I do think a good chocolate marshmallow ice cream would be best.  I  love how fun, quick ,and delicious this was and plan to make it again. 

I'm submitting this to Saturdays with Rachel Ray over at Taste and Tell

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mozzarella and Chili Crostini

Over the past few years, blogging has brought me so much happiness.  Not only do I get to indulge in food, but I get to do so while meeting some wonderful people.  So many of you I consider as friends and would love to get the opportunity to meet and hang out.  This recipe is for my friend Heather, who has had a rough week.  I wish that Natashya, Deb, and I could show up on your doorstep with good food and a good bottle of wine (or two).  It was with you in mind that I chose this recipe because it has so many of your favorite things: bread, cheese, garlic, and heat.  Wish we could share them together!
Mozzarella and Chili Crostini
Adapted from JamieOliver.Com

Tear 3 x 150g balls of buffalo mozzarella into quarters, then top each of your hot crostini with one of the quarters. Deseed and finely chop a fresh red chilli and sprinkle this over the mozzarella. Add a little seasoning and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Lovely with a little fresh basil torn over.

Notes/Results:  This is an amazing appetizer with wonderful contrast in texture and loads of flavor.  I just love the crunchy bread with the smooth and creamy mozzarella.  I also love the idea of using diced chili in place of tomato for that extra spicy kick.  Jamie's recipe didn't call for garlic, but I chose to rub each crostini with a garlic clove before topping them.  I think these need a little sprinkling of salt too, but that's just me. Absolutely delicious!
Theme: Potluck

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Frozen Treats Week #1: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Last summer was the Summer of the Popsicle. We enjoyed all kinds of homemade popsicles last summer, most of them fruit-based.  This year, we simply couldn't commit to making only popsicles.  We decided on frozen treats so that we could include another one of our favorites: ice cream.   So, just for the next 6 weeks or so, we are going to be having a weekly celebration of frozen treats.

We've been making this strawberry cheesecake ice cream for years and I can't believe it's never made it's way onto my blog.  Much to my surprise, this is probably my family's favorite recipe for ice cream.  Most of the time we are going for chocolate ice cream, or other variations of chocolate, but this strawberry cheesecake ice cream is so thick, creamy, and's just amazing! Give those pesky custard-based ice creams a break and try this easy recipe containing cream cheese.  I bet you'll love it too!

 Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Adapted from
Serves 4
  8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup fresh pureed strawberry
1 cup half and half or cream
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Chill ingredients for about 1 hour, or until cold.Turn on ice cream machine and set it to chill the freezing/mixing bowl for 5 minutes.Spoon the cooled mixture into the freezing/mixing bowl of machine. Set the freezing timer to the 30 minute maximum setting. Push start button.
Notes/Results:  We love this thick, fruity, extremely creamy ice cream with a passion.  It's very rich and dreamy and you really only need one scoop to satisfy your cravings.  Not to mention, this recipe is almost too easy.  A quick blend of 6 ingredients and a quick chill in the fridge and you're ready to make ice cream. A real favorite that the whole family enjoys!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Killer Cookie Dough Brownies

When my friend Kathleen, of Gonna Want Seconds, posted these brownies last week I knew I would have to make them.  It was just a matter of time, and the right occasion, of course.  My daughter was invited to a Last Day of School party at the neighbor's house and it seemed like the perfect occasion to make these brownies, eat one, and pass them on.  Lord knows I have to be careful when it comes to sweets, or else I end up strapping on my pig nose, and eating them all (more on that later). 
These brownies are so fantastic I can't even begin to tell you!  Both the adults and the kids went absolutely crazy for them.  How can you go wrong with chocolate chip cookie dough sandwiched between a smooth and creamy chocolate layer and a chewy brownie layer?  Oh my gosh, it was just perfection!
 Cookie Dough Brownies
Adapted from Kathleen at Gonna Want Seconds (who got the recipe from Farm Girl)

4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
(I added 1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee to deepen the chocolaty-ness and it was great)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts, optional

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cups walnuts, optional

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil and sugar. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, coffee and salt; gradually add to egg mixture. Stir in walnuts if desired.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until brownies toothpick test done. Cool completely.

For filling, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Spread over brownies (works best to just press out with clean hands.); chill until firm.

For glaze, in a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until smooth. Spread over filling. Immediately sprinkle with nuts, pressing down slightly. Yields 3 dozen.

Notes/Results: Awesome, awesome, awesome. We absolutely love this recipe and look forward to the day when we make them again.  Thanks to Kathleen for such a tasty treat!
These brownies will definitely make you want to strap on your pig nose!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Asian Shrimp Noodle Soup with Homemade Shrimp Stock

Much to my family's chagrin, I've been saving all my shrimp shells for over a month now waiting for the day when I had enough shells to make my very own shrimp stock.  Along with the shrimp shells, my freezer was packed with corn cobs, chicken carcasses, and other various things that seem like waste to those who "just don't get it."

Thankfully I don't have to explain myself to you.  I know you understand all my kitchen shenanigans and what's even better is that I also know that you're up to some kitchen shenanigans of your own.  It's these things that make me love you that much more!  Well, that and the fact that I don't have to explain myself to you, which, let's face it....I quit explaining myself several years ago when I turned thirty.  After all, there should be some rewards in getting another year older every year.

Speaking of rewards, shrimp stock smells like heaven and is ultimately rewarding.  I couldn't wait to use it in a recipe and wanted to put it to use right away for fear of forgetting about it in the vast confines of my freezer.  When I saw Jamie Oliver's recipe for Asian Chicken Noodle Broth in his Food Revolution book, I immediately knew I wanted to make a shrimp variation using my homemade shrimp stock.  Here it is in all it's glory....and I will say that it was pretty glorious.

  Asian Shrimp Noodle Soup
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution/Asian Chicken Noodle Broth
Serves 2

1 quart shrimp stock (*recipe below)
1 cup of shrimp (peeled & deveined)
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root
1/2 - 1 fresh red or green chile, to your taste
4 ounces rice sticks or vermicelli
a handful of snow peas
1 -2 radishes, sliced thinly
6 fresh baby corn or 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more for serving
juice of 1 lime
a small handful of spinach leaves
cilantro, for garnish

Put a large saucepan on high heat.  Fill the saucepan with the shrimp stock, heat until very hot, and put a lid on it.  While this is happening, season your shrimp with the five-spice powder and a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir.  Add a little olive oil to a saute pan and saute the shrimp until cooked through, tossing every now and again.

While the shrimp is cooking, peel and finely slice your ginger and slice your chile.  Take the lid off the pan with the shrimp stock and add half the chile, all the ginger, your rice sticks (or vermicilli), snow peas, asapargus, and corn with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.  Bring it to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Halve the lime and squeeze in the juice.  By the time the rice sticks (or vermicelli) and veggies are done, the shrimp will be cooked.  To serve, divide the spinach leaves between your bowls and pour over the broth, rice sticks, and vegetables.  Divide the shrimp over the soup and scatter with remaining chile and cilantro. 

Michael Symon's Homemade Shrimp Stock
Adapted from Live To Cook
Makes About 1 quart

Shells from 1 pound of shrimp
1 onion, quartered
1 Two inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, sliced
1 carrot, thickly sliced
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine the shrimp shells, onion, ginger, carrot, coriander seeds, bay leaf, salt, and 2 quarts cold water in a pot.  Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, skimming away any impurities that rise to the surface.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, continuing to skim impurities as necessary.  Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the solids.

Notes/Results:  I am a huge fan of any Asian-inspired noodle soup and this one was one of my favorites.  Spicy, vegetable-packed, full of noodles, and with wonderful flavor from both the shrimp and the shrimp stock, it was a truly wonderful and fragrant meal.  You can bet that I will continue to save all of my shrimp shells from now on and I urge you to do the same.
Theme: Something's Fishy

@ Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, June 3, 2011

Summer Corn Fettucine

My friend, Brenda of Brenda's Canadian Kitchen, and I have been happily serving up Rachel Ray's recipes from Look + Cook for more than a couple of months now.  One thing that I have learned during this time is that Rachel's recipes really deliver in the flavor department.  I also love that while none of them are 30 minute recipes, they are in fact easy and simple, which is right up my alley.  I loved the last recipe, Creole Meat Loaves with Trinity Sauce, so much that I got a jump start on this month's recipe right away.  For this month I chose Rachel's Summer Corn Fettucine, which is in every sense, a true summertime pasta.

Rachel's recipe for corn fettucine begins by making a corn cream, a mixture of cream and fresh corn kernels blended into a very thick pale yellow cream.  Bacon is cooked until crisp and mixed with sauteed peppers, shallots, more corn, herbs, hot sauce, and cheese and then blended with the corn cream and tossed with pasta.  It is rich from the cream, flavorful from the bacon and veggies, spicy from the hot sauce, and herbaceous with the parsley and basil.  I loved this unique blend of ingredients combined with pasta and definitely think it's worth a try when fresh corn is in season this summer.
 Summer Corn Fettucine
Adapted from Rachel Ray's Look + Cook
Serves 4-6

1 pound fettucine
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling)
6 slices smoky bacon, chopped
6 ears corn on the cob, shucked
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used a green pepper)
Black pepper
1 cup half and half or cream 
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (I omitted)
1/2 cup chicken stock or dry white wine
A few dashes of hot sauce or a pinch or two of cayenne pepper
A couple handfuls of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh sweet basil leaves, or chopped tarragon

Heat a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.  Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente.  Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with a drizzle of EVOO over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the bacon to the pan and cook for a few minutes to crisp the bacon and render its fat.  Place a small bowl inverted in a large bowl, steady the corn cobs on the smaller bowl, and scrape the kernels off the ears.  Add three quarters of the kernels and the liquids to the bacon.  Add the shallots and bell pepper to the corn mixture and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Cook until tender, 5-6 minutes.  Add the remaining corn to the food processor and puree with the cream.  Stir in the thyme and the stock or wine into the corn mixture in the skillet, reduce for a minute, then stir in the corn-cream mixture.  Reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, to thicken.  Add the hot sauce or cayenne pepper and adjust the salt and pepper.  Drain the pasta, then toss with the sauce, parsley, and a couple handfuls of cheese, about 1/2 cup.  Top with basil or tarragon and pass the remaining cheese at the table.
Notes/Results:  I've seen so many recipes combining corn and pasta and was curious to try it for myself.  I really liked Rachel's idea of blending the corn kernels into the cream sauce and thought it was a super tasty and veggie-packed pasta with a slight kick from the hot sauce.  Another great pasta dish!

You can find more Rachel Ray dishes over on Deborah's site every Saturday for her Saturdays with Rachel Ray feature.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

April & May French Fridays with Dorie Roundup

The months of April and May are extremely busy for me and I didn't manage to make all of the FFwD recipes, but I did manage to squeeze in 5 of the 8 or 9 recipes planned.  Lately I have been finding it increasingly harder to fit in the FFwD recipes, but I really don't want to give up on the project because I've been so pleased with the recipes and I've learned quite a bit along the way.  The following recipes are no exception.
 Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak
Okay, first up is this gorgeous Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak and let me tell you, I made this over a month ago and I can still remember taking every luscious bite of it.  I didn't even know that a supermarket fillet could be this good.  Wow!  Dorie's recipe uses a fillet cut which is pressed into cracked pepper, pan-seared, and covered in a sauce of Cognac and cream.  Worth every calorie.....

Garlicky Crumb-Coated Broccoli
On the side I served this wonderful side dish, which I could totally make into a meal by the way, Dorie's Garlicky Crumb-Coated Broccoli.  Holy cow...I think I inhaled this.  I really did!  I absolutely adore broccoli and Dorie's recipe left the broccoli perfectly cooked with a good bite to it.  Of course, it was those amazing garlicky breadcrumbs that had me going back for more and more.  The recipe indicated that this dish didn't keep, or reheat well, and I needn't have worried about that.  We devoured it!  This recipe was probably my favorite of all the recipes I tried in April and May and I will definitely make broccoli this way from now on.
Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Salad
I keep trying and trying to like quinoa.  Really I do.  This is the third time I've tried quinoa and I was really hoping that Dorie's recipe for Quinoa, Fruit and Nut Salad would make me a believer.  It didn't.  The recipe came together well and I really loved the idea of adding all the dried fruit and nuts,  but I guess I don't like quinoa and most likely never will.  I should point out that plenty of others tried this recipe and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

I love my greens, so there was no way I was skipping Dorie's Spinach and Bacon Quiche.  Didn't matter to me if no one else in house was interested in eating this or not, I was definitely making it and I'm so thrilled I did.  Dorie's tart dough comes together so easily and bakes up so buttery and flaky.  A beautiful filling of sauteed spinach, crisp bacon, onions, garlic, egg, and cream is topped off with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese to create an amazing breakfast or brunch treat.  I had no problem eating a slice every day until it was gone. 
Cardamom Rice Pilaf
The last dish I made was Dorie's Cardamom Rice Pilaf.  Cardamom pods are bruised in order to release the tiny seeds inside which contribute both flavor and aroma to the plain white rice.  I made half of the recipe, which called for 1/2 cup rice and about 3 cardamom pods.  I think the flavor of the cardamom was subtle, yet recognizable.   I really enjoyed this rice with Dorie's Spiced and Buttered Glazed Carrots (which also have cardamom) and thought both of these dishes paired wonderfully together.  I will definitely pair both the cardamom rice and the buttery spiced carrots together again!