Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shrimp Scampi Tacos with Cilantro

I have a soft spot for ugly beaches. Growing up in Houston, our summer vacations meant Galveston or Rockport, where the sun was bright, the air salty, and the water filled with tar. Red noses and black feet were the signatures of a day well spent and I racked up my share of both.

They definitely weren't the prettiest beaches. The sand was far from white and the ocean more brown than blue. But they were my beaches. And let me tell you - I have been in California many many times happy to trade their beautiful, fog covered coastline for a good old sunny Texas beach. California beaches are gorgeous - they just don't want anyone to know it!

Anyway, long preamble into a simple recipe and a new all time favorite. After a long, travel-filled work week, all we wanted was to have a margarita (or two) and enjoy dinner on the porch in this unbelievably balmy 70 degree weather. Kris wanted shrimp scampi. I wanted something to go with the margs. We both won. Hooray marriage!

Shrimp Scampi Tacos with Cilantro
* You can saute onions, peppers, or jalapeno with the shrimp if you like.

16 fresh peeled and deveined shrimp - large in size
1 tablespoon butter, plus 2 additional tablespoons
salt and pepper, for seasoning
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Shredded cheddar cheese, optional
Several flour tortillas, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil and warmed in the oven on 250 for at least 10 minutes

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a large, rimmed nonstick pan. Put the pan over medium heat and once the butter has melted, tilt the pan around to evenly coat the bottom and add the shrimp, giving each its own private space to cook in.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and let cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until you can see the sides of the shrimp becoming nice and pink. Use tongs to flip them to the other side, and cook another 2 minutes or just until the tails have become bright and there is no more translucency in the shrimp. Bring heat to medium high and add in the wine.

Let the wine bubble away for a minute or so just to burn off the alcohol, then stir in the last 2 tablespoons of butter and cilantro and reduce the heat to low. Stir the butter until it's melted and incorporated into the sauce. At this point, you can keep the shrimp on the lowest flame just to keep warm until serving - they'll hold for about 15 minutes just fine.

Or eat right away, spooning extra sauce into the tortillas along with the shrimp if desired. Garnish with additional cilantro and/or cheese and don't forget to pull the tails off first if you're wimp like me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day to All. And the winner is...


I'm so so happy too because I happen to love Siri's Blog - Siriously Delicious.

Check it out when you have a chance and thank you everyone for entering. I'm sure there'll be another one soon!


The Meat and Potatoes Foodie

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spice up Your Valentine's Day - Jalapeno and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce

Very unsexy weekend for me as we're barreling towards a deadline at work. So I'll keep it brief and leave you with a sexy little dish to keep in mind for Monday. Or tonight. Or tomorrow. After all, is there really a way to make Mondays romantic? Not sure...

But Monday is also the day I'll announce the $55 giveaway- so enter if you haven't already on the post a couple down and good luck!

PS - to make this an easy and fast dinner, make the tomatillo sauce ahead of time and refrigerate (up to 2 days before) then just reheat gently over the stove before serving.

Jalapeno and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce

2 boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets, preferably on the thicker side so you can stuff them
1 large jalapeno, seeded and deveined and cut in half length wise
4 (1/8 inch thick) slices of Parmesan cheese, from a wedge, about 1x2 inches each
White pepper and kosher salt, for seasoning
Ground coriander, for seasoning
Garlic powder, for seasoning
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Make a slit length-wise in the thickest part of your cutlets, not all the way through but leaving a good 1/4 inch before the other side. Sprinkle the inside with a good shake of white pepper, coriander, and garlic powder, then stuff each cutlet with the sliced jalapeno your slices of parmesan cheese. Transfer the cutlets to a greased, rimmed baking sheet and season the outside of the cutlets with salt and pepper, and a little more coriander and garlic powder if desired. Drizzle a little olive oil over the filling and the top of the cutlets and bake for 22-25 minutes until cooked through. Let rest for 8 minutes before slicing on the diagonal. Serve with tomatillo sauce.

Tomatillo Cream Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper, for seasoning
1 (28 oz) can tomatillos, well drained
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup sour cream
2 heaping tablespoons chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Add the olive oil or butter to a medium heavy bottomed dutch oven and put over medium heat. Let heat through for 1-2 minutes until warm and add the chopped onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes until softened. Add in the tomatillos and cook them in the onions, stirring occasionally for 12-15 minutes until the 1 or 2 of the tomatillos 'bursts' releasing its seeds into the pan OR until some of the onions begin to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan. You don't want them to start burning but some good browned bits are lovely. Add in the coriander, garlic powder, and white wine or vermouth and bring to a boil over high heat. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture, being sure to scrape up any sticky or browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let boil away stirring occasionally until the majority of the wine has evaporated and the mixture is beginning to thicken - about 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes before adding to your blender to puree. Blend until the tomatillos and onions are all broken down, then add the sour cream, herbs and salt and blend again.

Taste to see if you need more salt or pepper, make any adjustments, blend again and serve. Sauce can made ahead and stored up to 3 days in the fridge in a tightly sealed container. Either serve cold if using for dip or reheat as a sauce over a low flame on the stove.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Onion Confit

This is my favorite thing I've made so far this year. The tenderloin is its usual buttery, tender self with a crust of spices including garam masala. If you don't have garam masala, don't panic. Just substitute a mixture of cumin, cinnamon, and coriander. If you don't have cumin, cinnamon, and coriander, put your computer down and get your arse to the store immediately, thanks.

I have to tell you as good as the tenderloin is, it's really just an excuse to make the confit. A confit, though fancy sounding with its French name and pronunciation (CON-FEE) is just something that's been slowly cooked for a long time. You might have seen duck confit on a menu or even ordered it before which is simply a duck leg slow roasted in duck fat and aromatics for a good long time until it's falling off the bone. But having consulted the web I learned that the definition has opened up a bit to other kinds of meats and even vegetables and fruit and no longer requires being submerged in fat to qualify as a confit.

This confit is simply onions and apple, started in butter and finished with a splash of cider vinegar. The closest thing I can liken it to is an adult version of apple sauce. Both sweet and savory. Comforting and exotic. Fric and frac.

Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Onion Confit
1 pork tenderloin (or 2 as confit will be enough for 2 smaller ones)
2 teaspoons garam masala, to season (or a combo of cumin, coriander and cinnamon)
salt and pepper, for seasoning
Dash of olive oil, for drizzling over tenderloin

4 tablespoons butter
1 super large or 2 small/medium pink lady apples, cored and thinly sliced to about 1/8 inch
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
white pepper
couple pinches kosher salt
1/8 or so teaspoon garam masala
couple pinches ground cinnamon
large pinch dried thyme
Splash of cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy clean up), spray with nonstick spray, and set aside. Meanwhile, season the tenderloin well with garam masala, salt, and pepper. Place the pork onto your prepared baking sheet and drizzle with a smidge of olive oil. Roast for 25 minutes or just until pork is no longer pink on the inside and has the tiniest hint of a crust from the spices. Set aside and tent with foil to rest for 5 minutes before slicing on the diagonal into 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch pieces.

For the confit, add the butter to a heavy bottomed dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add the apples, onions, bay leaf, white pepper, salt, garam masala, cinnamon, and thyme. Saute, stirring often for ten minutes. Reduce the heat to low/medium (or low if it's sizzling too much) and put the lid on to let simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. At end, add a splash of apple cider vinegar and stir in. Simmer another 5 minutes before stirring again. Serve warm over roasted meat or crostini.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Spicy and Sweet Eggplant Stir Fry

This is so easy and simple, it's become a go to at our house. To make it a meal, I first fry up a couple of cubed chicken breasts in the pan, remove and set them to the side while I cook the veggies, then add the chicken back in to warm through just before serving. You could do the same with tofu. Just serve it over some rice and you're done.

Don't forget to enter the $55 CSN giveaway on this post!

Spicy and Sweet Eggplant Stir Fry
* Adapted from Epicurious
* You can add or subsitute mushrooms for the eggplant if you like.

2 Japanese eggplants, tops trimmed, halved lengthwise, then cut diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 smashed and peeled garlic cloves
pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger (use a Microplane)
1/8 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder, or coriander
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped chives, plus extra

Add the oil to a wok or large rimmed nonstick pan and let heat through over medium heat.

Add the eggplant, bell pepper, and garlic. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and cook, stirring often, for about 15-18 minutes or until the eggplant has begun to lose its shape and cook through and the bell pepper has started to brown and caramelize a little at the edges.

Meanwhile, stir together the mirin, soy sauce, ginger, and five spice powder. When the vegetables are thoroughly cooked, add the mirin mixture and green onions to the pan and stir for about a minute, until the sauce becomes a glaze and eggplant is browned and tender.

Serve over rice with additional fresh chives.

Monday, February 7, 2011

$55 CSN Giveaway!

As promised our friends at CSN whose wonderful sites sell everything from modern office furniture to cooking gadgets to dinnerware (I so wish I hadn't seen those Thomas Paul plates...) are hooking us up! One of you lovelies will win a $55 gift certificate to spend however you wish.

All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment on what your favorite kitchen gadget is and 'follow' me if you don't already. Next Monday I'll randomly draw a name and post the winner back here on my site.

Start your engines - and good luck!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Margarita Cookies, because 'Snowball Cookies' seems cruel at this point

As you make this dough, you will scratch your head and say 'this can't be right....' There are no eggs in the batter and the amount of powdered sugar seems off. But stay the course my friends. These cookies are the reason Martha can make being socially retarded and borderline witchlike (I say this with love - I adore her) into a badillion dollar empire.

These cookies are heaven on earth - sweet and salty with a fierce wallop of citrus. They're like eating a margarita and a perfectly crumbly french pastry at the same time. Okay now that I say that out loud I realize that doesn't sound that awesome but trust me. They're the kind of cookie you don't want to know how many the recipe makes because it's too depressing to do the math of how many of them you've eaten. Then again, isn't that what you want in a cookie?

I hope you all are having a heck of a weekend. $65 CSN giveaway coming TOMORROW!

Margarita (Snowball) Cookies
From Martha Stewart's 'Cookies' Cookbook

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature (martha uses unsalted - I say bring it)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Grated zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt (maybe use kosher if you've used salted butter)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.
Between two 8-by-12-inch pieces of parchment paper, roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Meet Miss June Carter!

Apologies for the radio silence - as you can see I've had my hands full. More recipes to come soon as well as a big, fat giveaway from our good buddies at CSN!