Dining at Disney – Morimoto Asia

Knowing that we would be well in the midst of cold weather in Michigan, we planned a long weekend in Disney to cure the winter blues and visit family who winter in Florida.

We took the opportunity to visit an Iron Chef Restaurant, Morimoto Asia. My husband and I remember watching the original Iron Chef from Japan dubbed over in English, Chef Morimoto was always awesome to watch there and on Iron Chef America.

The restaurant offers a variety of dishes that represent several Asian countries, on our last visit we had Peking Duck, which is delicious, and reminded me of when I enjoyed it in Beijing.

This time we started with a Spicy Salmon Roll and Toro (tuna) Tartare and our youngest had the Chicken Wings. (Note: he said the wings were really good, but that the sauce that was described as spicy in the menu was very mild.) I also tried the Morimotini with sake and vodka, it was a very nice cocktail.

For dinner, my husband selected the Ebi Chili, a stir fried jumbo shrimp with a chili sauce (wonderful heat, actually spicy for those of you who avoid it) and fried rice with a slow cooked egg that’s added at the table.

My son selected the duck ramen, the flavor was rich and delicious.

I selected a Korean dish, one that Chef Morimoto originally served to win an Iron Chef battle: Morimoto Buri-Bop. It is a rice dish served in a clay pot heated to 400F. When they bring the dish out the fish and egg yolk are raw.

They move the fish to the side of the bowl to give a light sear meanwhile they break the egg yolk over the hot hot rice.

Finally they toss the ingredients together.

It was amazing.

For dessert my husband and I split a 12- year Yamazaki; my son elected the Chocolate Cream and Crunch to be able to enjoy a tempura Oreo.

If you get the chance, enjoy!

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Mmm… Paella

I originally published this last year and realized it is one of the many that the images were lost. Paella is a process and picture help if you haven’t made it before. So I have added them back and reposted for everyone to enjoy while the weather is beautiful. 

Original post…

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you that are Moms. Instead of my regular Sunday dinner, I was watching my son’s soccer game scheduled for 6PM. Sometimes that happens.

Our spring is always busy and this week was no exception. Last Sunday, I had a soccer game in the middle of the day so I had to do some creative work with the timing.

My boys also had a 5k run early last week so I selected a dessert that I could make quickly before they got home starving. Chocolate mousse. It’s quick, delicious, and needs at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.

The amazing taste of chocolate mousse has an inversely proportional relationship with the amount of work needed to make it. In brief, it’s really easy even though it tastes like it took hours to make.

I got up at 8, as my boys were starting the run, I lolly-gagged a bit, and still managed to have the mousse in ramekins in the fridge by 9. While the recipe states to finely chop the chocolate, I tend to use chips or just beat the candy bar on the counter; or in this case I used a mix of both.

Once the butter, chocolate, and liquor (bourbon this time) melt together, allow it to cool before stirring in the egg yolks. This is a good time to beat the cream and the egg whites with the sugar.

  

                    
Once those are ready to go, the chocolate will be cool enough to stir in the yolks and then the egg whites and cream (alternating).

        
From this point they go into the ramekins and into the fridge.


After we got back from the game at 3, I started on my prep work so that I could get the stock started. The stock used some of the scraps from the prep for the paella. I also had some leftover chorizo from another use, so that went in too. I started with the shrimp, reserving the shells for the stock. I doubled everything to so that I could use it for a couple of meals. Since everything get strained from the stock, there is no need to peel the garlic or carrots.

      

Everything goes into the pot.


Once the shells gain their pink color and the vegetables start to become tender, the water goes in and you bring it to a boil and then let it simmer.

  
This gave me the time to do my other prep for the paella. The key is a good soffrito: onions, garlic, celery, and then ultimately tomato.

  
My market had 3 different brands of Spanish chorizo, so I used them all.


I also made a spice blend with sugar, salt, and smoked paprika.


I cleaned my micro greens and rinsed my olives.

  
My favorite pan for paella is my 17″ cast iron skillet, and the easiest place to use it is my grill.


By this time, the stock is done and you pour it through a fine strainer and press the solids for this beautiful stock.

    

So once with everything prepped and the grill hot, I brought it all out to my bar height table next to the grill.


The chorizo goes in first and the aroma begins.


And when they are done, set them off to the side and add the shrimp to the pan.

  
They cook quickly in the hot skillet and it’s important to not overcook them. When they are done set them off to the side wth the chorizo and keep them warm.


The soffrito goes into the hot skillet until it cooks down with the wine being added in the middle.

  

Then add the stock and once it’s hot, the saffron. When it returns to a boil, the rice.

  

After the rice goes in, stir until it comes back to a boil, and then only turn the pan so that the rice cooks evenly. I also squeezed a couple of loaves of garlic bread onto the grill from our local bakery on the market and my MIL made a fabulous salad.

When I brought it inside, I added in the zest and juice of a lemon.

  
And I served it with a rosé Sancerre.


Dessert was accompanied with whipped cream and Baileys.

  
And as mentioned much earlier in this post, this meal did become a second; I put it in a wrap with queso fresco and grilled it. It also reheated VERY well in our lunch!


Back-Burner Stock

Makes About 3½ cups ∙ Source Bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ounces charcuterie trimmings (such as ham, bacon, and/or sausage ends)
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro stems
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mixed vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and/or fennel)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander or fennel seeds
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Shrimp shells (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add charcuterie, onion, cilantro stems, garlic, bay leaves, vegetables, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, and shrimp shells (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, until shells turn bright pink and vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes.

Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on solids; discard solids.

Do Ahead: Stock can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

Chorizo and Shrimp Paella

Makes Servings: 4 ∙ Source Bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 pound Spanish chorizo, casings and ends removed, sliced into rounds
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • ¾ cup dry white or rose wine
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Back-Burner Stock
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1½ cups bomba rice
  • 1 cup green olives (such as Castelvetrano), pitted, torn into large pieces
  • 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving
  • Radish sprouts (for serving)
  • Flaky sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Process onion, celery, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl. Add tomatoes to processor and process until smooth; set soffritto aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a 12″–14″ paella pan or skillet over medium-high. Add chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add shrimp to same skillet, season with salt, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate with chorizo.

Heat remaining ½ cup oil in same skillet over medium-high. Add reserved soffritto and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8–10 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until mixture is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add paprika, sugar, and 2 tsp. salt. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick, about 3 minutes. Add stock and saffron and bring to a boil.

Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid starts to simmer, about 5 minutes. Quit stirring; a film will form on the surface (this will trap steam, making a gooey cover over the rice, helping it cook evenly). Reduce heat to low and simmer, moving pan around every few minutes so the entire bottom gets equal time over the hottest part of flame, until liquid evaporates, 12–15 minutes.

Top with olives and reserved chorizo and shrimp. Finely grate lemon zest and squeeze lemon juice over paella, top with sprouts, and season with sea salt. Let paella rest 5 minutes before you dig in; serve with lemon wedges.

Paprika File

Dark Chocolate Mousse

Desserts, Ice Cream and Custards, Tested and Approved!

Makes 6 Servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Epicurious | 2004

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 Tbsp Kahlua, or other favorite alcohol (i.e., Bourbon)
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

DIRECTIONS

Combine the chocolate, butter, and kahlua in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature. To test, dab some chocolate on your bottom lip. It should feel warm. If it is too cool, the mixture will seize when the other ingredients are added.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate. Once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

When the chocolate has reached the proper temperature, stir in the yolks. Gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream.

Spoon or pipe the mousse into a serving bowl or individual dishes. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. (The mousse can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

Paprika File

Linguine with Garlicky Shrimp

I am so thankful to have the best Guinea pigs on the planet, my husband, kids, and in-laws never complain and they eat everything. Granted I think it’s practically impossible to say no to good food, or any food…but I’m very thankful anyway. My understanding from friends is that my kids, who do try everything I put in front of them, are the exception.

Sunday, I made a treat, another homemade pasta. I was not in the slightest bit concerned: garlic and shrimp are always a perfect combination. I have had this on my list for 3 weeks, but with the activities associated with the end of the school year and spring sports, I needed to find the right day to make pasta.

This is another from the pasta cookbook I got for Christmas and it was another win.

Although, as is fairly typical, I started with dessert when I got back from the grocery store. A couple of weeks ago you may have noticed Bailey’s Cream Cheese Brownies on the list, I was not happy, they were cake-like instead of fudge-like even though the flavor was perfect. I threw a large chunk in the freezer to give it new life. Homemade ice cream is a wonderful treat, and even better with Bailey’s and brownies.

My favorite go-to book for ice cream is Ben and Jerry’s cookbook. There are lots of ideas in there, but the most important item is the sweet cream base.

Start with the eggs and whip them until they are light and foamy. Then add the sugar slowly and they become thick and creamy. For ice cream, I always use my vanilla sugar; every time I use a vanilla bean it goes in this container of sugar, until I use the next one and swap it out.

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Last add the milk, heavy cream, and in this case Bailey’s to create your base. After that follow your if cream maker’s instructions.

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While it froze, I chopped my chuck of brownie and with a few minutes left I added in the chopped pieces.

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From there I moved onto the pasta. The recipe said it served four so I increased it accordingly, I need not have bothered, with the increase I could have served 10-12.

I used a food processor recipe (still in my broken food processor). Starting with the flour and salt, then the eggs and oil all together.

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Although it appears to be a sticky mess when I turned it out on the floured pastry board, after kneading for several minutes it is a beautiful soft and smooth dough.

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Per the instructions I let it rest under a bowl while I began my preparations for rolling the pasta.

I divided it into six pieces and only worked with one piece at a time, leaving the others under the bowl while I rolled them out to thin sheets. (Thoroughly flour between the sheets so that they don’t stick together!)

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Then they went through the the linguine blade and I spread them out and hung them everywhere.

While it dried I moved onto my sauce, starting by rinsing and cleaning the shrimp.

I blanched my tomatoes in the boiling pasta water so that the skin came off easily.


I then proceeded to my chopping work before starting anything on the stove.

While the water was coming to a boil I started the sauce; the pasta went in about the same time as the shrimp.

The shrimp is added once the garlic is fragrant, once they are just opaque, the tomatoes, salt, and white wine are added. Once the wine had reduced off, the pasta was done and I tossed it all in a large bowl with the fresh parsley.

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As usual, my MIL made a wonderful salad (spinach, sprouts, and water chestnuts). And we had a garlic bread to round out the meal before serving the brownie ice cream for dessert with freshly sliced strawberries.

Linguine with Garlicky Shrimp

★★★★★

Entrées, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ red pepper flakes
  • 2 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • sea salt
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. linguine

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot, bring 5 qt. water to a boil. While the water is heating, make the sauce.

In a frying pan large enough to accomodate the pasta later, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened but not browned, about 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté, turing once, until opaque, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the tomatoes, season with ~½ tsp. Sea salt, and stir to mix. Stir in the wine and cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of the parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning, remove from the heat, and cover to keep warm.

When the water is boiling, check the package directions for the cooking time, then add 2 Tbsp. Kosher salt and the pasta to the boiling water, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just shy of being al dente.

Return the sauce to low heat. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce in the pan, and toss until the strands are well coated with the sauce. Transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl, or individual shallow bowls, top with the remaining parsley, and serve immediately.

Paprika Recipe File

Egg Pasta

★★★★★

Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Prep 30 minutes ∙ Cook 0 minutes ∙ Makes Servings: 6 ∙ Source Williams-Sonoma | The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or “00” flour (see note above), plus more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

DIRECTIONS

To make the dough by hand, measure the flour onto a work surface, mix in the salt and shape the flour into a mound. Using your fingertips, make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the center of the well and add the olive oil. Using a fork, beat until the eggs and oil are blended, making sure the liquid does not breach the walls of the well

Using the fork, gradually draw the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture and beat gently, always in the same direction, to combine the flour with the liquid. Secure the wall of the well with your other hand until the liquid has absorbed enough flour that it will not flow over the wall.

When the mixture is too stiff to use the fork, begin using both hands, gradually drawing in the flour from the bottom of the wall, until you have a soft, moist, but not sticky ball of dough. If the dough will not absorb more flour without becoming stiff, do not use it all. If it is too soft, add more flour, a spoonful at a time. Clean the work surface, dust it lightly with flour and flatten the ball of dough into a disk.

To make the dough with a food processor, fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add all but 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt to the work bowl and pulse to mix. You will use the reserved 1/2 cup flour later to adjust the consistency of the dough.
Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and remove any stray shells. Add the olive oil; there is no need to stir. Pour the eggs and oil into the work bowl. Process until the flour is evenly moistened and crumbly, about 10 seconds. Test the dough by pinching it; if it is very sticky, add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, processing until it is incorporated. After about 30 seconds total, the dough should come together in a loose ball and feel moist but not sticky

Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the ball of dough from the food processor and place it in the center of the floured surface. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk.

For both methods: Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down and away from you, fold it in half back toward you, rotate a quarter turn and repeat the kneading motion. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl and let rest for 15 minutes before you roll it out. The gluten in the flour will relax, making the dough easier to roll. Do not let it rest longer or it will be too dry. Makes 1 lb. dough.

Paprika Recipe File

Ice Cream (Sweet Cream Base)

★★★★★

Desserts, Ice Cream and Custards, Tested and Approved!

Cook 30 minutes ∙ Makes ~1 quart ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature

DIRECTIONS

Use an electric mixer and whisk the eggs, until they turn light and fluffy (1-2 minutes).

Slowly, add the sugar while whisking the eggs. I usually use an electric mixer in one hand and then use the other hand to pour the sugar in a little bit at a time. Slower is better. When it’s all in there, mix it a minute or so more.

Then pour in the rest of the cream and milk and mix it all together.

  • Vanilla Ice Cream: Add 2 teaspoons of good vanilla extract.
  • Alcohol Flavored: Add ½ cup of liqour(s).

Chill the mix (either covered in the fridge, or using the double-bowl and ice method) until it’s below 40°F (5°C). It helps to chill the mix before it’s run through the machine, so it freezes faster. The faster the mix freezes, the smaller the ice crystals will be, and the smoother the texture.

If you have a machine with a built-in freezer, turn it on and let it get good and cold. Then turn on the motor so the dasher starts spinning, and pour in the mix.

It’ll take about 30 minutes, more or less, to churn. You’ll probably be able to hear the motor slowing down when it gets close, and you should probably stop it before it really starts having trouble, just so you don’t damage it. It’ll come out like stiff soft-serve ice cream.

Speed counts now. Get all the ice cream out of the machine, into containers, and into the freezer, as quickly as possible. After a few hours in the freezer, the ice cream will harden and be like what you buy in the store. Smaller, pre-chilled containers allow the ice cream to freeze faster, which is what you want to keep it from getting icy.

Paprika Recipe File

No Recipe Grill

We spent Father’s Day at my in-laws playing in the pool. Knowing this was the plan I did a quick trip to the grocery store for grillables. I was planning on surf and turf with shrimp and flank steak, but whole beef tenderloin was cheaper per pound so I decided on that instead. I made coarse cubes with all of the trimmings and froze several 4-6 ounce filets. The trimmings I seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The shrimp went into a separate bowl with juice of 2 limes, a couple cloves of garlic, ~⅓ of a seeded Serrano, and olive oil.


Before cooking I shucked the corn and put olive oil, salt, and pepper on green onions, zucchini, and potatoes.


The potatoes went in the grill first over high heat for about 20 minutes.


Once the potatoes were tender I moved those up and put the zucchini and corn on the grill.


With good grill marks on the zucchini I pulled off the veggies and put on the proteins.


They only took about 5 minutes; and the onions that I added last only took 2.


Earlier in the day I made a herbed garlic olive oil; when the oil is hot I added a couple of smashed cloves of garlic and cooked it until golden, then I removed it from the heat and added chopped basil, mint, and chives.


I grilled pita bread just to get grill marks and then brushed them with the oil and ground on coarse salt.


Perfect dinner.


Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

Shrimp with Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Cream 

Over the weekend, my husband found a recipe in the Detroit Free Press for Shrimp with Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Cream, or in this case I should say it was most of a recipe. The instructions simply did not make sense to me. It also called for cooked shrimp, which is also completely illogical because you lose the opportunity to impart flavor. I still put it on the menu because the rest of the ingredients were a good combination. I got out the recipe in the paper and started with the sauce as I have it written below. 

  
(Still using my little cuisinart because the big one broke…for the third time. I’m taking suggestions for a new brand.)

I had shrimp and a lobster tail in the freezer, so that what I used today; I think next time I would use just shrimp or just scallops. 

  
This was a great way to cook pasta and the best result is one less pan to wash!

  
As the recipe (now) states, you cook the seafood while the pasta is boiling.

  
In the end it was an incredibly quick meal and I actually had to tell the boys that licking their plates was rude. Thankfully we had a good Italian bread to mop up the sauce.

  
Shrimp with Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Cream

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 15 mins ∙ Makes Serves 4 ∙ Source Freep.comINGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 8 ounces roasted red peppers, drained
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, separated minced
  • ½ cup chopped parsley, separated
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • olive oil
  • 1½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Salt & pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Place the red peppers, cream cheese, broth, 4 cloves of garlic, and ground black pepper in a food processor and process until smooth; scraping down the sides as needed. Mix in half of parsley and set aside.

To prepare the pasta, place it in a large skillet and cover with water and season with kosher salt (~¼ tsp.). Bring to a boil and cook, while stirring, until pasta is al dente. Much of the water will absorb into the pasta. Remove the pasta to another dish and keep warm.

While the pasta is cooking, season the shrimp with a bit of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes. When the pasta starts to boil heat olive oil in a separate skillet over medium high heat, when it shimmers add the remaining garlic then the shrim and cook until just cooked through ~3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside

In the pan used for the pasta, add the sauce and bring to a slow boil. Stir in the pasta and shrimp, then sprinkle with remaining parsley. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

NOTES

Sauce will be good with other varieties of seafood, including scallops and calamari.

Cooler Weather

Late fall, when it begins to really cool off is always the time that my appetite goes to soups, stews, and crock pot recipes. One of my favorites is jambalaya, it may not be a traditional recipe, but I really enjoy this crock pot recipe. Today it gave me the time to pay attention to my son and his new girlfriend in the famility room while I made pies, one for dessert, one for a friend’s birthday tomorrow, and a third just in case we need more.

The only work of the jambalaya is chopping the vegetables,


and the kielbasa.

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Once these cook down,

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stir in the shrimp and parsley and you are done.

I prefer this as a weekend meal since it isn’t good if it’s in the crock pot for 9 hours (my minimum time away from home on a workday; and I’m not actually fond of eating at 5:30). The recipe is very amenable to to changes based your preferences; I am a bit heavy handed with the shrimp and kielbasa, I have also used andouille…play with it so that it matches your taste preferences.

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Jambalaya

cook 4-9 hours ∙ makes Serves 8 ∙ difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, large, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1½ pounds smoked kielbasa, halved and sliced
  • ½ tsp thyme, dried
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper sauce
  • 1½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 4 cups hot cooked rice

DIRECTIONS

In 3½- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients except shrimp, parsley, and rice.

Cover; cook on low heat setting 7 to 8 hours (or high heat setting 3 to 4 hours).

Stir in shrimp and parsley. If needed, reduce heat setting to Low; cover and cook on Low heat setting about 1 hour longer or until shrimp are pink and firm. Serve jambalaya with rice.

NOTES

Spicy and smoky, andouille sausage is traditionally used for this dish. If you’re in a more mellow mode, leftover ham works just as well.

Spray the inside of a 1/2-cup measuring cup with cooking spray. For each serving press the hot rice into the cup. Place the cup upside down in the bottom of a bowl, and unmold the rice. Spoon the jambalaya around the mound of rice. Serve with warm crusty French bread.

I have discussed my apple pie before with my mother’s crust recipe, my own recipe is slightly different. For my mom, “easy as pie” is a meaningful phrase. Sadly, for me, not so much. My hands are very dry and I cannot “feel” the crust as she describes. So after playing with a number of recipes, I modified hers to include both butter and Crisco. This gives it the desirable flakiness associated with a Crisco crust and the manageability of a butter crust. It can be mixed in a food processor…easy.

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Pie Crust

prep 30 minutes to 4 hours ∙ makes 1 double crust ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Shannon Stacey

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 5½ Tbsp Crisco, +1 tsp., chilled
  • 5½ Tbsp butter, +1 tsp., chilled
  • ¼ cup water, ice-cold

DIRECTIONS

Mix flour and salt together in a food processor. Add half of the Crisco and half of the butter and process until just combined. Add remaining Crisco and butter and mix until crumbly. Add water slowly while pulsing the processor. Pour out dough onto a very lightly floured board and shape into a disk. Split into two pieces (slightly larger for the top crust) and shape into 5-6″ disks. Wrap each disk in saran wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Use as directed in pie recipe.

NOTES

This recipe easily scales from 1 to 3 double crusts.

Shrimp and Polenta

Tonight was an easier evening, everyone was done by 6:30 and home by 7, unfortunately I haven’t been grocery shopping since I came home from Madrid. So today, looking at my email, this was close to the top Shrimp and Pancetta on Polenta. Quick and delicious, I created my grocery list. Most of these ingredients I have onhand, but I needed shrimp, pancetta, and a can of diced tomatoes; I also decided that I would broil asparagus to go with it.

When I got to the store, I quickly decided that the asparagus was not at its peak and started to look for an alternate. The brussel sprouts caught my eye and into the cart they went.

Rather than the instant polenta that the recipe called for, I went back to the baked polenta that I tested for my son’s 17th.

To make this, start the polenta first, everything else can be done while it bakes. I purchased brussel sprouts on the stalk (1 stalk is about ¾-1 lb. and serves 4). Cut the sprouts off, trim the ends, remove any loose or bruised leaves, and then cut in half. Dice the pancetta (have it thick cut, ~⅛-¼” slices at your deli), mince the garlic, chop the parsley, and shred the parmesean. I also had time to put groceries away and pick up the younger boy from weigh-lifting.

With about 20 minutes left on the polenta, start the pancetta in each of the pans as stated int he recipes, stirring and watching to make sure that the pancetta doesn’t burn (nor the garlic in the pan for the shrimp). For the brussel sprouts, remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and set aside, then add the sprouts to the pan and occasionally stir over medium head to get a nice color on them. For the pan with the shrimp add the tomatoes and reduce until thick. At about the same point that you add the shrimp, you should be adding the balsamic vinegar to the brussel sprouts and returning the pancetta.

The brussel sprouts are as beautiful as they are delicious, especially if you cook in cast iron:

 The polenta was perfect again and a great pairing with the shrimp:


Baked Polenta

Side Dishes, Tested and Approved!
makes 8 ∙ difficulty Medium ∙ source Bon Appétit | October 2012

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)
  • 7½ cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ cups finely grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • black pepper, freshly ground

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Stir polenta, oil, salt, and water in a 13x9x2” baking dish to blend. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour 15 minutes. Stir in cheese and butter and season with pepper. Smooth top and continue baking until polenta is set and jiggles like custard, 25–30 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Broil polenta, watching very closely to prevent burning, until surface is light golden, 5–7 minutes. Serve immediately for a softer polenta; for a firmer texture, let rest for up to 30 minutes.

Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta And Balsamic Vinegar

Side Dishes, Tested and Approved!, Vegetables

cook 15 to 20 minutes ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Detroit Free Press | Nov. 20, 2011

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 slices pancetta, thick slices, cut into small pieces (~⅛ lb.)
  • 1¼ pounds brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and ends trimmed, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet, cook the pancetta or bacon pieces until they are crisp. While the pancetta cooks, rinse the brussels sprouts under water. Remove the pancetta and drain on a paper towel.

Add the brussels sprouts in the same skillet and begin to sauté over medium heat until they start to slightly brown, sprinkling them with the sherry or water so they don’t stick, about 5 minutes.

Drizzle the brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar and continue sautéing until the sprouts are just tender, about 5 to 6 minutes more.

Season with freshly ground black pepper.

NOTES
If you can’t find pancetta, substitute thick-cut bacon.

Shrimp and Pancetta on Polenta

Entrées, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

cook 25 min ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ source Gourmet | November 2009

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ pound pancetta, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 (14-ounces) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1½ pound cleaned large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Polenta, cooked as directed

DIRECTIONS

1. Cook polenta according to package/recipe instructions.

2. Cook pancetta, garlic, and red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until garlic is pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 minutes.

3. Spoon polenta into shallow bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil, season with pepper, and sprinkle with parsley.