Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gin Fling

It feels like Spring again!  Today anyway.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring, so I'm celebrating (again) while I can.  Out on the deck the other day, I spotted tiny little leaves of mint just emerging from their winter hibernation.  Wouldn't they be just the thing for a Spring cocktail?!  Yep.

Deck Mint!
 What else would be bracing and refreshing and would suit the occasion?  In Saturday's Mixology class, we used fresh celery juice in a celery and honeydew drink - very good, but very about using celery and mint?  Hmmmm...two beautiful spring green colors going on there so why not reinforce the spring green color with lime?  Yes!  And gin?  Yes, again!  Gin and beautiful weather seem to go together simply....well, beautifully.  

A little tasting determined all that lime tartness needed some sweet, so I used my current favorite fennel simple syrup (yep, another spring green going on here) to achieve just the right balance.  I don't know if this cocktail creation has a name anywhere else, but I'm calling it a Gin Fling...kind of a combo of a spring fling and gin!  I used Bluecoat Gin, made in Pennsylvania and with lovely citrus notes.  I much prefer a citrus-y or botanical gin instead of the overly pine-y English-style gin....especially in my Gin Fling.

Here's how I did it.

Gin Fling

  • 2 oz. Bluecoat Gin
  • 3/4 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 1/4 lime, cut into half again
  • a few tiny mint leaves or 1 larger mint leaf
  • 3/4 oz. fennel simple syrup or plain simple syrup
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • ice
In a cocktail tin, put in the celery, lime, mint and simple syrup and muddle well.  Add gin, juice of 1/2 a lime and fill tin 3/4 of the way with ice.  Cap and shake until tin is frosted and very cold.  Strain into a martini glass or glass of your choice and garnish with a sprig of celery leaves and a lime wheel.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Coffee Rum-tini

Congratulations!  You made it through Monday!  That's reason enough to celebrate for me.  You?  Have you noticed those shiny, milky white bottles on the shelves of your favorite local bar that say RumChata?  Have you done yourself a favor and had your favorite bartender make you a drink with it yet?  Well, do it NOW!  

I first tried this at a Yelp Elite event (check out Yelp Pittsburgh for the local happenings at at Cioppino last fall in the Strip!  RumChata is a rum-infused blend of dairy cream and cinnamon that is bottled in Wisconsin.  If you're familiar with horchata, it's a take on the traditional Latin American drink made with rice.  

As yet, I don't think you can find it in PA State Stores...WHAT is taking so long?!  When it's on a shelves in the bars, you should be able to buy it here.  Grrrr....and they wonder why we Pennsylvanians get frustrated with the system we're stuck with in the Keystone State.  Get with it Pennsylvania!  Of course, Ohio and Michigan have it. (Grin!)

The drink recipe below may sound STRONG!  Chill.  The alcohol content of RumChata is only 13.75%.  Kahlua only has an alcohol content of 20.5% so this is a pretty gentle drink.  Gentle is just fine for a Monday evening of relaxation after the first workday of the week.  Enjoy.  Responsibly.

Coffee Rum-tini

  • 4 oz. RumChata
  • 2 oz. Kahlua
  • 2 oz. cold coffee, plus extra for wetting the rim of the glass (I used leftover pumpkin spice from the morning)
  • ice

  •  1 t. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 T. granulated sugar

In a small container, mix the cocoa powder and sugar.  Sprinkle this on a small plate, dip the rim of a martini glass in extra cold coffee and rim the glass with the cocoa/sugar mixture.
In a mixing tin, mix the RumChata, Kahlua and coffee.  Add ice almost to the top, cap tightly and shake until the tin is frosty and cold.  Strain into the prepared martini glass and sprinkle with some of the cocoa/sugar mixture to garnish.  Serve.   


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Apple Jalapeno Slaw

What are you cooking this weekend?  If the weather cooperates, grills all over the Burgh will be cranked up....and lots of burgers, steaks, chicken and hot dogs will be sizzling away soon.  Go away, rain!  

Quite coincidentally, Kimber and I have both been working on slaw recipes.  What better to serve with just about anything on the grill, right?  Both are little twists on the classic. 

The Apple Jalapeno Slaw is my version of the fantastic slaw I've enjoyed so many times at Smoke BBQ Taqueria in Homestead.  Have you been there yet?  No?  Get you butt over there! Here's a link to the Yelp reviews: version of Nelda's slaw has no mayo, just slaw mix, apples and jalapeno with an oil and cider vinegar dressing.  Crisp, light, refreshing and just the right crunch, heat & sweet alongside those proteins off the grill.

Apple Jalapeno Slaw

  • 1 package coleslaw mix
  • 1 apple, cored, quarter, sliced thinly - leave the peel on for color and texture
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, quartered lengthwise & sliced VERY thinly - shaved almost (use less if you like less heat)

  •  1/3 c. canola oil
  • 2 T. cider vinegar 
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t. granulated garlic
Toss the coleslaw mix, apple and jalapeno together and set aside.

Whisk the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and granulated garlic together until emulsified and pour over slaw mix.  Toss together and serve.

Green Curry Broccoli Slaw

It's getting close to that time of year for picnics and fun side dishes. Yay warm weather!!!!

Green Curry Broccoli Slaw is a new favorite of mine (yep, it's Kimber back again!) I am usually not big on coleslaw, so this is a fresh and yummy twist. Colorful veggies that are contrasts of crunchy and tender, spicy and cool, tart and sweet...all at the same time.

Think about making this gorgeous side for your next picnic or for dinner. I love it and if you're a veggie lover, I bet you will, too!

Thai Green Curry Broccoli Slaw

  • 1 bag broccoli slaw
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup cashews, chopped

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 12 fresh snow peas, slivered
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly well into the green
  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup 0% Greek yogurt (Fage preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or 1 packet Splenda)

  • 1 tablespoon green curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2-1 Tablespoon Siracha hot sauce (start with less - add if you like it HOT!)

Whisk together the coconut milk, yogurt, sugar (or Splenda), green curry paste, curry powder, vinegar, and siracha in a small bowl.

In another bowl put your broccoli slaw and pour the dressing on top and toss until coated. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Refrigerate until dinner or eat right away.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grilled Caesar Romaine

Here's a question for you....have you tried grilling your salad yet?  What?!  Yep. Last year I saw - and tried - a recipe for a grilled romaine salad with bacon, balsamic vinegar reduction and blue cheese and fell in love with salad all over again!  It reminded me of an old time wilted lettuce salad - only better.  

After a long trip back from Michigan on Sunday, we wanted a simple dinner - steaks on the grill won out!  What the hell, as long as the grill is hot, why not try the same technique on another salad favorite?  How about Caesar salad?  I whipped up a quick Caesar dressing with lemon, garlic, dry mustard and olive oil, then sauteed some garlic croutons and coarsely grated some good parm over the top.  The experiment was not only a success, it was delicious!

Grilled Caesar Romaine

  • 1 head romaine lettuce - split in half lengthwise, cut side sprayed lightly with olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice, more if you like it tarter
  • 1 t. dry mustard - I use Coleman's
  • 1/2 C. olive oil
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated fresh to taste

  • 2 slices bread - your favorite, in my case it's gluten-free, cut into small cubes
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced  

Whisk the 2 cloves minced garlic, Worcestershire, lemon juice, mustard and olive oil until emulsified.  Set aside.

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the bread cubes and garlic until crisp and golden. Set aside.

On a hot grill, put the romaine cut side down and grill just until beautiful grill marks appear.  Remove to a plate.

To serve, drizzle dressing lightly over each grilled romaine half, sprinkle with croutons and lightly grate the parm over each.  Serve!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cocktail Time!!!!!

Yeah, I know Shakespeare said that in the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of, this (not so young) woman's fancy turns to cocktail time on the deck! 

Last night I made the delightful little concoction you see on the right...I call it a Cucumber Fennel Lemondrop.  English cucumber, lemon, fennel simple syrup were muddled together, I added vodka and ice, garnished and that was it.  Honestly, it's one of my favorite cocktails ever!  I'll be making these frequently over the warm months!

 Cucumber Fennel Lemondrop

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 3/4 oz. fennel simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • 1/4 of a lemon cut into wedges
  • 2" piece of English cucumber cut into dice (leave the peel on if you're using an English or seedless cucumber - the ones that come shrink-wrapped because they aren't waxed.  If you're using a regular cucumber, peel it so you don't get wax in your cocktail!)
  • ice

In a cocktail tin, muddle the lemon and cucumber with the simple syrup until well pulverized.  Add the vodka and fill almost to the top with ice.  Cap the shaker and shake until the tin is frosted.  Strain into a Collins glass and serve with a slice of cucumber and a slice of lemon.  Enjoy.


The pink cocktail on the left was tonight's project!  It's a Strawberry Black Pepper Mojito.  Again I put together a muddle...fresh mint leaves, fresh strawberries, lime, black pepper simple syrup and rum.  Quite nice!

Simple syrups have been a little hobby lately.  I learned the black pepper one in my Mixology class (info at: and the fennel one I came up with on my own.  

We had roasted veggies the other night with fennel bulb...I had fennel fronds left so those anise scented fronds went into a simple syrup.  See the note below this recipe for simple syrup instructions.

Strawberry Black Pepper Mojito

  • 3 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 of a lime, cut into wedges
  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 3/4 oz. black pepper simple syrup
  • your favorite rum
  • club soda
  • ice

In a cocktail tin, muddle the lime, mint leaves and strawberries with the simple syrup until well pulverized.  Add the rumand fill almost to the top with ice.  Cap the shaker and shake until the tin is frosted.  Strain into a Collins glass, top with club soda and serve with a a strawberry and a sprig of mint.  Enjoy.

NOTE:  To make simple syrup, combine 1 c. sugar with 1 c. water in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil while stirring, reduce heat and simmer until sugar is totally dissolved.  Add whatever you're adding to flavor the syrup and let it cool to room temp.  Strain into a bottle with a cap and store in the fridge.

For black pepper simple syrup, use 1 T. (or more) of the pepper, crushed.  

For fennel simple syrup, use the fronds (more or less, to taste) from 1 bulb of fennel.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Roast Pork Hash with Potatoes, Fennel and Garlic

I love to stretch a buck.  You may have learned that about me by this time…or maybe not yet.  You will, in time, discover my frugal side, my friends! 

I may be cheap, but I do NOT skimp on quality.  The best cuts behind the glass of the butcher's case and the fishmonger's (gosh, I love that word) case, too, grace our table.  When I spot a sale, that’s when I buy.  And meals are planned to use every smidgen.

Remember that roast chicken from a few posts ago?  Since the original meal, we’ve enjoyed chicken soft tacos with part of the leftover white meat and with the rest, lemony California chicken salad made a tasty lunch.  BBQ chicken pizza with some of the dark meat was another quick, easy meal built on a bought crust. 

The carcass?  You just know I didn’t throw that away!  I tossed that sucker into a pot with veggies and herbs, the rest of the dark meat, made a good rich stock out of it and a hearty, steaming pot of Southwest Chicken and Rice Soup was born.  That went into the freezer for cool days when I don’t have time to cook.  That’s a lot of eating for one chicken!

Sunday night’s Herbes de Provence Rubbed Pork Roast?  Tonight, some of that became a hot skillet of roast pork hash.  Big cubes of leftover pork, potato chunks, squares of anise-y fennel bulb, diced onion and sliced garlic cloves were sautéed together in a little bacon fat until it was all crispy and browned. A few steamed and buttered asparagus spears made it a complete meal.   

What about that last little bit of roast pork?  What on earth can I do with that?  Traditional Cuban Sandwiches are on Thursday's menu to use up the last little slivers.  Don’t tell anyone, but there will be a fresh Strawberry Black Peppercorn Mojito for each of us to go right along with that Cuban theme!

Did I get you thinking about making the most of your own food dollar?  I hope so.  Hey!  If you want any ideas, shoot me a comment.  Even better, if you have any new ideas for me, let me know!  

Roast Pork Hash with Potatoes, Fennel and Garlic

  • 2 T. bacon fat or vegetable oil
  • 1 C. leftover pork, cubed
  • 2 large potatoes, skin on, cubed
  • 1/2 large onion, cut into large dice
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, cut into large dice (remove fronds for another use)
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the bacon fat or oil in a heavy skillet.  Once the skillet is good and hot, add the pork cubes and brown on all sides.  Remove.  

Add a little more bacon fat or oil.  Once it is good and hot, add the potatoes, onion and fennel.  Brown, stirring occasionally.  About halfway through, add the sliced garlic.  

Once the veggies are nearly done, add the pork back into the skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste,  Cook everything together for a few more minutes to blend the flavors. Serve with a nice green veggie or a salad.

NOTE:  Roasted carrots, onion, asparagus, garlic and fennel were Sunday's side dish. I used the other half of the fennel bulb and the onion in tonight's hash.  You KNOW I wouldn't waste them! 

I didn't waste the beautiful, ferny fennel fronds either. Those were used to make a batch of fennel simple syrup for some creative cocktails.  The syrup smells wonderful and I can't wait to make some kind of cucumber/fennel/gin drink! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Herbes de Provence Rubbed Pork Roast on the Grill

How’s this for a winter day?!  It’s almost 6:00 p.m. on March 10, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the temperature out there is 64 degrees...I’ll take this kind of a winter anytime!  What am I doing inside working on this post?!  Truth.  This post isn’t going to be long…I’m going back and forth from the grill to the pond to here so you can have the recipe stat.

For years I’ve been doing a crust/rub on the roasts we do outside on the grill.  It’s simple:  Herbes de Provence, garlic, granulated garlic (nothing wrong with double garlic, you know), olive oil and Kosher salt, but it is far more than the sum of its parts.  Those simple ingredients rubbed on either a rib roast or a bone-in pork loin take it over the top!  There are friends who break into a goofy grin when they hear one of these beauties is on the menu and they're coming for dinner. Tonight we’re doing the pork roast version.  

I’d further wax rhapsodic about this gorgeous hunk of meat, but I need to get back outside and check on the roast.  You don’t think I’m cutting this short to just get back out in the sun and warmth, do you?!  Duty calls.

Herbes de Provence Rubbed Roast on the Grill

  • 4 pounds bone-in pork center rib chop, whole roast

  • 1/2 cup herbes de provence
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed or worked into a paste
  • olive oil spray, either your own in a mister or Pam

Mix the granulated garlic with kosher salt and fresh garlic, combine well.  Liberally coat all sides of the roast with the garlic mixture.  Spray all sides of roast again with the olive oil and pat the Herbes de Provence onto all sides of the roast.  Set aside.
Preheat grill.  Light one side only of your gas grill.  Place the roast into a roast holder and place over the NON-lit side.  Roast until it reaches the temperature you prefer and the doneness you prefer.  I don't like pink pork, no matter what they say me old fashioned...I can deal with it. : )

NOTE:  Herbes de Provence is an aromatic blend of thyme, basil, savory, fennel and lavender from the Provence area of France that gives anything you make that certain indescribable wonderful something.  Try the same rub on a rib roast - magnifique!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cracked Black Pepper & Lime Shrimp Tacos

Taco Night!

Mmmmm...mmmmmm...shrimp tacos!  Oven-fried spicy shrimp piled high onto corn tortillas with an easy cilantro slaw and a drizzle of creamy, lime-kissed cilantro crema.  Add a side of guac and I'm a happy camper.  

You still have time to get to the store to pick up everything you need to make these for Friday or even for Meatless Monday.  Get going...I'm keeping this short so you have time to get to the store!

Cracked Black Pepper & Lime Shrimp Tacos

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 t. dijon mustard
  • 1 pound shrimp, remove tails & shells
  • 1 c. fresh fine bread crumbs, gluten-free to make these GF
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 t. freshly ground black pepper, coarsely ground
  • canola oil plus extra to mist over shrimp (can use Pam)
  • 2 c. packaged coleslaw mix
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly well into the green
  • 3 T. cilantro, coarsely chopped

  • 1 c. plain Greek yogurt (I like Fage 0%)
  • juice of 1 lime (use the zest for the breading above and the juice for the crema)
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 2 T. fresh cilantro, minced finely
  • 2 t. GREEN Tabasco
  • salt to taste
  • soft corn tortillas 
Slaw:  Toss the coleslaw mix, green onions and cilantro together well.  Set aside or refrigerate until ready to assemble tacos.
Crema:  Mix all the crema ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to assemble tacos.
Shrimp:  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet (with a raised edge all around) by coating lightly with canola oil.  Set aside.
Toss breadcrumbs, lime zest and cracked black pepper together in a plastic bag.  Set aside.
In medium bowl, beat egg white until very frothy, but not meringue-y.  Gently beat in mustard.  Add shrimp to egg white mixture and coat completely.
Remove shrimp from egg white mixture, let excess liquid drip off and add shrimp to the plastic bag, one at a time, with the breadcrumbs.  Shake gently to coat, remove and place on prepared baking sheet.  Mist breaded shrimp with oil and immediately place in preheated oven.
Bake for 10 minutes until just cooked through.  Remove from oven.
Assembly:  Put 3 shrimp on each tortilla, add a little slaw, a little crema, squeeze a little lime over and it's shrimp night!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Serrano, Lime and Cilantro Roast Chicken

Serrano, Lime and Cilantro Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken.  When chicken is roasting in the oven, the air is perfumed with not just the golden bird right there in the oven, but with memories of Sunday dinners around your mother's or grandmother's dining room tables long ago.  If you close your eyes and listen real close, maybe you can almost hear the voices of those whose words meant so much to you when you were growing up.  And you smile.  I think roasting chicken is like a hug.  Warm, comforting...and wonderful.  Maybe that's why it's one of our favorite Sunday meals around here.  

Last Sunday was a roast chicken kind of day and it got me thinking about last October when I went to visit one of my daughters and her family - the one in West Virginia.  Julie had never made roast's one of her husband's favorite dishes. 

Actually, we didn't start out the day intending to roast a chicken.  Julie and I had spent the day touring Harper's Ferry together - just the 2 of us - and were going to pick up a smoked chicken for dinner at the stand by the river.  The hickory chicken wafting in the air  smelled wonderful!  It was $18 for a chicken!  Change of plans.

Instead, we hit the grocery store and picked up everything we needed to roast our own chicken when we got back to her place.   So we created our own memories of cooking together and laughing together and making her home smell like Sunday dinners of the moms and grandmoms and aunts before us.  The bonus is that Toney now gets roasted chicken just about whenever he wants!

At Julie's, we did a traditional chicken with fresh herbs, garlic and lemon zest.  It's good to start off with the basics.  Once you have those down, you can start to experiment, to jazz it up a little....and that's what I did on Sunday.  I've been working on a version with lime and jalapeno and haven't gotten it as flavorful as I'd like - well, not until Sunday, that is!  I finally nailed it.  Here's the recipe. 

  Serrano, Lime and Cilantro Roast Chicken 

  • 1 large roasting chicken, maybe 6 pounds or so
  • olive oil Pam or olive oil in your own mister

  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, minced
  • 3 huge garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 serrano peppers, very finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, very finely minced
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 T. Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350.  

Combine the herbs, garlic, peppers, lime and salt.  Set aside.

Remove the giblets, heart, know, all that gunk inside the bird...and rinse the chicken with cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels.

Put the dry chicken into a roasting pan fitted with a wire rack.

Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the meat of the entire breast (both sides) lifting the skin and creating a pocket.  Be careful not to tear the skin.  Take about a quarter of the herb mixture and spread it evenly between the skin and the meat of one side of the breast.  Repeat on the other side of the breast with another quarter of the herb mixture.  Carefully pat the outside of the chicken - breast, legs, wings - with the rest of the herb mixture.  
Before putting the chicken into the oven, spray it all over lightly with the olive oil.  Put it into the oven for approximately 2 hours or until the legs wiggle loosely and the skin is beautifully browned.  Look for an internal temp of about 180 degrees.

Remove from oven and let it sit for about 15 minutes before carving.  Be sure to breathe deep and enjoy that heavenly aroma!

Chipotle Cheddar Green Onion Mashed Potatoes

What do you like with roasted chicken?  We like mashed potatoes!  I did a little riff on those, too, on Sunday.  We'll be having THESE again soon!!!

Chipotle Cheddar Green Onion Mashers

  •  2 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 T. butter
  • 3 small chipotle peppers in adobo, minced fine
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced well into the green
  • 1/2 - 3/4 sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 t. granulated garlic
  • 1/2 c. cream or buttermilk (approximate - depends on how dry your potatoes are - add less, you can always add more, but you can't take it out once it's in!
  • salt & pepper to taste
Cut the potatoes into a pot of cold water.  Add salt - maybe a tablespoon - and bring the pot of potatoes to a boil.  Cook until the potatoes are tender, remove from heat and drain off all the water.  

With a potato masher, mash the potatoes coarsely.  Add the butter, chipotle pepper, granulated garlic and onions; stir gently until the butter is melted.  Add cheese and incorporate thoroughly.  Add cream or buttermilk until the potatoes are smooth, but NOT runny!  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spicy Chorizo Hash with Eggs

Helllllooooo, Sunday!  It is so good to see you again...well, then again I do have mixed feelings about you.  While I love the leisurely start to greeting the first day of the week, there is some simultaneous mourning for the last day of the weekend.  Sigh.  How to reconcile these bittersweet feelings?  Nothing like a good, stick-to-your-ribs brunch or breakfast to soothe away the angst of the day.  And a stiff, spicy Bloody Mary helps, too! 

This morning's brunch is an old favorite of mine.  I created this a few years ago after buying a package of fresh chorizo in the Strip District for another purpose.  Dinner plans changed for that evening (like I'd turn down dinner out with friends instead of cooking in) and I needed to use that chorizo fast.  Voila!  Chorizo hash was born.  

Chorizo Hash with Eggs

  • 1 pound red potatoes, whole, boiled until tender, cooled, diced into 3/4" pieces, or 1 pound frozen Potatoes O'Brien, thawed
  • 3/4 pound chorizo, fresh, removed from casings
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • cilantro, minced - don't leave this out!

Preheat oven to 375.  Heat ovenproof skillet on a hot burner.  Add chorizo.  Using potato masher, break up into nice sized pieces while it's cooking.  Add potatoes, onion and red bell pepper, cook until browned and tender, but still with a little bite.  Remove from heat. 
Make 4 wells in hash, break an egg into each.  Put into oven for 15 minutes, more or less, or however  long it takes for the eggs to be to your liking.  In our house, the hubby likes them hard (ugh) and I like a nice runny yolk - makes a nice sauce over the hash that way!
Sprinkle with cilantro to serve.  Cilantro is important to add a nice brightness to the dish!
NOTE:  These are really nice done in individual casserole dishes.  Divide hash evenly among 4 casserole dishes, make well, break egg into each and proceed as above.
Don't miss the variation above to just do these with thawed O'Brien potatoes to make it an easy morning.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Toasty Tropical Oven-Baked Coconut Lime Shrimp

    Mixed marriage.  I'm in one.  Have been for more years than can be counted on fingers.  And toes. A couple of times over.  Does it work? Most of the time.  No, I didn't convert and neither did he. Well, I WAS mislead at the beginning of our relationship as the hubby pretended to be something other than what he was.  He wanted to be cool, one of the "in" crowd and would sit at the table with the rest of us and eat crabs.  Oh, did you think I was talking about religion?  Nah, that would have been easier. 

    With me, crabs, seafood and fish are almost a religion.  I'm devout.  He's a seafood atheist. The kids?  They dabble in the religion, but haven't been regular congregants.  I'm still working on that conversion. 
    Which brings me to the subject at is the season of fish!  And shrimp, and crab and scallops and all those delights that swim, crawl and skitter in and around the seas and lakes of the good old U. S. of A. Hallelujah! Can I have an amen?!   

    Lent, for me, is just an excuse to indulge - and indulge I do at bargain Lenten prices.  Like tonight.  Dinner this evening was shrimp....not just any shrimp, but Oven-Fried Coconut Lime Shrimp.  It was heavenly, almost a religious experience I swear.  

    I did a little riff on my regular coconut shrimp to eliminate the frying to reduce the calories. I wanted to pump up the coconut and I thought a little lime would boost the tropical vibe going on, too.  Instead of using all beaten egg white to help adhere the coconut, I added cream of coconut (yep, the same stuff you put in your Pina Colada), then added some lime zest.  For the dredge I used cornstarch with some added spices.  

    What I love about fried coconut shrimp is the toasty, crunchy coconut around the sweet, tender shrimp inside.  Without frying, how to get the crunch?  I toasted the coconut ahead of time and misted a little olive oil over it, tossed it and then crusted the shrimp.  Success!  Here's how.

    Toasty Tropical Oven-Baked Coconut Lime Shrimp

    • 12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied

    • 1 egg white
    • 1/4 c. cream of coconut
    • grated zest of 1 lime

    • 1/3 cup cornstarch
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

    • 1 cup shredded coconut, toasted in a 325 degree oven until golden, cool
    • olive oil Pam or olive oil in a mister 

    •  lime wedges
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Beat egg white, cream of coconut and lime zest together in a bowl.  Set aside.
Mix cornstarch, cayenne, salt and pepper together in a study plastic bag.  Set aside.
Spray cooled coconut with olive oil and toss right on the baking sheet.  Set aside.  Spray a second baking sheet with olive oil to place the shrimp onto for baking.
Add shrimp to wet mixture and toss until the shrimp are coated. Add shrimp one at a time to the dry mixture.  Close bag tightly and shake until the shrimp are well coated. One shrimp at a time, press the coconut onto both sides of the shrimp and place each shrimp onto the oiled baking sheet.
Bake shrimp for about 10 minutes (depending on the size of the shrimp - larger shrimp take a little longer, smaller shrimp a little less time) until just cooked through.  Do not overbake - you don't want dry, tough shrimp...keep them moist, tender and succulent.
Plate up the shrimp, squeeze a little fresh lime juice over top, sprinkle with a little Kosher salt and do some of your own indulging.  They're divine.
NOTE:  If you wish, fry them instead of baking.  Heat oil to 350 degrees in a cast iron skillet and fry instead of baking.