Sunday, March 31, 2013

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Truffle

Stuck with with a basket of brightly colored hardboiled eggs the Easter bunny left behind? Egg salad on the dinner menu AGAIN?! How does something just a little different, but still familiar, sound to have those eggs eaten up in a hurry? Sort of a deviled-egg-meets-guacamole appetizer with just a little flair is what I have in mind.

What inspired this dish? A lone avocado sitting in the molcajete didn't quite make it into the last batch of guac. No way I was going to let it go to waste when it was just at the "use it or lose it" stage. The soft creaminess of the beautifully ripe avocado kept "egging" me on to try something new.

Hmmmm...that nearly egg-shaped avocado would mash up with hardboiled yolks into an even smoother, creamier filling than normal. And what would go better with avocado  than jalapenos? Nada. 

Hmmmm (again)...the traditional mustard used in deviled eggs might overpower delicate avocado, what else might lend a savory, umami accent? The answer sat right on the kitchen countertop. Truffle salt! Just that easily a new recipe was born. And made. And tasted. And approved!

Not wanting to depend on my opinion alone, the pickled jalapeƱo-garnished cuties were packed up for an evening with friends at my favorite cocktail establishment (Acacia!) for testing. Eggs were sampled by friends and bar staff both. The result? Smiles and thumbs up all around! Here's the recipe to get the same happy outcome from your very own taste testers!

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Truffle

Serves 6

  • 6 eggs, hardboiled, cooled, shells removed, sliced in half lengthwise, yolks removed into small bowl and set aside; egg white halves set aside on a plate
  • 1 avocado, nicely soft and ripe
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 jalapeno chile pepper, seeds and veins removed, VERY finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon truffle salt (if you can't find truffle salt, try using smoked salt - see below for where to find truffle salt)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, or more if needed for consistency
  • pickled jalapenos slices, cut into pieces

In a small bowl, mash reserved hardboiled yolks with a fork until fine. Add avocado and lemon juice and mash again with a fork until the avocado and yolks are well mixed. Add the jalapeno, Tabasco, Worchestershire sauce, truffle salt and mayo. If the mixture is too stiff, add mayo a little at a time until piping consistency.

Using a zip top sandwich or quart bag, spoon the mixture into the bag being sure to load it into one corner. When the bag is 3/4 of the way full, squeeze out the air and zip the top securely. Snip off a corner of the bag large enough to pipe the mixture into the center of the egg white easily.

Pipe the egg/avocado mixture evenly into the hollows of the whites. Decorate the tops with small pieces of pickled jalapeno to garnish.

Await your OWN smiles and thumbs ups!

NOTE: Truffle salt (I HIGHLY recommend using it...not just for this recipe, but for fried eggs, popcorn, rice...anything to give your finished dish that extra something special) can be ordered at Gourmet Delights online. I use them regularly!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easy Bloody Mary Salsa to Celebrate National Nutrition Month!

Happy National Nutrition Month! You didn't know? I wouldn't have either if I hadn't gotten an email from the PR firm for Red Pack tomato products. Was I interested in trying the brand for National Nutrition Month? My answer was a hearty YES!  

Strolling (okay, dashing most harried evenings) through the canned veggie aisles at the local grocery store, bright red cans of Red Pack tomatoes have always been a trusted sight and brand. I couldn't wait to get the package.

What did I get in the mail, but a GREAT BIG can of Red Pack products and a handy selection of kitchen tools to help celebrate the month. Thank you, Red Pack!
I couldn't wait to play with the new fun stuff...what would I make...what would be as much fun as the can, with the removable lid, that everything was packed into? Bloody Marys! Too early in the day? Well now, how about Bloody Mary Salsa instead. 

BIG CAN! Can opener, pasta server, magnets, pot holder, magnets and Red Pack tomatoes!

All the flavors and heat of my beloved favorite cocktail were combined anew in a low cal, high in lycopene, high in Vitamins A and C, fiber-filled dip that's easy to make for drop-in company. I always have a can of diced tomatoes on the shelf and there's always fresh onion, garlic and celery in the pantry. Instant party!

The juice that's reserved in the recipe? You know I don't waste anything. AND you know my favorite cocktail. No surprise at all that juice went into a brand new Bloody Mary mix, is there? My new mix is one with a somewhat south of the border flair using guajillo and jalapeno peppers, a touch of smoky cumin, a little garlic...oh, and instead of vodka? Tequila! That recipe will be coming up very soon. 

In the meantime, check out the Red Pack website for lots more good-for-you recipes to help celebrate National Nutrition month in style!

Red Pack Bloody Mary Salsa

  • 2 cups Red Pack canned diced tomatoes in juice, drained well (reserve juice for another purpose) You should have approx. 2 C. tomatoes
  • 1 stalk celery, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons onion, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (be sure it's gluten free to make this GF)
  • 1 teaspoon tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon vodka, you know this is optional...I just had to put in a bit to make it REAL! Feel free to leave it out.
  • salt and pepper, to taste - be sure it's freshly ground black pepper!

Combine all the above ingredients well. Refrigerate for an hour or so to mellow and meld the flavors. Serve with corn chips!

NOTE: Want to make this with fresh, glorious summer tomatoes from your garden? Go ahead! The Red Pack version above can be made all year round, no waiting for in-season tomatoes!

Try using Bloody Mary Salsa on eggs or huevos rancheros in the morning, too!

Wondering why I used fresh garlic AND granulated garlic? Fresh celery AND celery salt? Flavor layering. Puts more of a punch into the depth of flavors. Try the technique in your own recipes!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Food With Friends in Annapolis - The BBQ Edition

The weather report in Annapolis last Saturday was gloomy. In fact, as we Food With Friends pals gathered at Donna's home on the banks of the Severn River, that's exactly what we encountered. Blustery, cold, overcast. And the lump charcoal and wood chips were lit, the clouds parted, the sun emerged, temperatures rose. Magically, the day transformed into Springtime! Who knew BBQ smoke has miraculous properties?

This time the theme of our quarterly get-together was BBQ. Our Georgia gentleman, Greg Blanton, pit master extraordinaire, manned the Webers and created heavenly flavors out of pork butt, chicken and salmon. 

As hours of tending slowly smoking proteins passed, many jokes were told, cocktails sipped, laughs shared and friendships forged more solidly while the aroma of smoking proteins rode the wind. Watching Greg work his magic was quite the treat, but nothing compared to the smoked delights that graced the dinner table. That man knows his way around a smoker! 

Greg (front and center!), Bonnie (supervising (?) in the background)

That beautiful weather? As the fire and smoke went out, so the sun slid behind darkening clouds. We were dry and toasty inside as the wind blew and rain pelted the deck and windows outside. Good timing, Greg!

Here's the line up of everyone's deliciously BBQ-appropos contributions to the day:


While the 'Cue was smoking happily away, appetizers were served to the hungry throng. 

Marti outdid herself warming up our tastebuds! Boursin-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates kissed with just a touch of smoked paprika - these marvels were sweet and salty perfection; Baked Bean Dip...what's a BBQ without baked beans? From scratch, homemade baked beans with her very own BBQ sauce, whirled into hummus-like consistency and served with corn chips absolutely stole the show; Manchego Rosemary Fricos - these were my go-to addiction on Saturday; Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Squares adorned with a dynamite Chipotle Cherry Sauce. Oops! I almost forgot the Smoked Cheddar!  


Marti designed her appetizer selection around the cocktail created for the event which was created to pair with BBQ. (It's so good to conspire and work so well together!) What goes with BBQ, but bourbon?!

Bourbon HumZinger is the name I came up with for my cocktail. Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Canton Ginger Liqueur, orange blossom honey rosemary syrup, lemon, a splash of seltzer and a garnish of fresh rosemary served casually in a pint Mason jar nicely complemented the smoky BBQ flavors.

Why the cocktail name? The bourbon part for obvious reasons, the "Hum" part for the honey and the "Zinger" for the ginger.  Maybe for the tickle of the bubbles in those cool antique seltzer bottles, too? (Where do you get seltzer the way it used to be done? Pittsburgh Seltzer Works! More about them in another post.)


Bourbon HumZinger

  • 2 ounces bourbon, Buffalo Trace
  • 1 ounce Canton ginger liqueur
  • 1 ounce simple Sugar Syrup, Orange Blossom Honey Rosemary syrup, see recipe below
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • soda water, splash
  • fresh rosemary sprig

Fill a tin 3/4 of the way with ice. Add bourbon, ginger liqueur, syrup and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Cap, shake until the tin is frosted and strain into a Mason jar filled 3/4 of the way with ice. Top with a splash of soda.

Place the rosemary on the palm of your hand slap sharply with your other hand to release the fragrant oils. Garnish and enjoy!

In a pan, bring 1 cup honey and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat, add 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and stir. Remove from heat and let cool. Take out the rosemary and store the syrup in a covered container in the fridge.


While Greg did the smoking, both he and Donna provided the proteins that were the focus of the day.

Salmon with a sweet and spicy, red rub and smoked quickly to produce a moist and tender filet; chicken rubbed with yet another (secret mixture); pork butt with yet another rub, smoked for many hours to ensure a moist and tender butt that fell into shreds. (There was a fig BBQ sauce to slather or to dip the butt in, but there was no need for gussying it up at all. I DO wish I'd tried the sauce though...FIG? How did I forget to try that one).

Bonnie's Green Bean, Grape & Pecan Pasta (L), Greg's Smoked Chicken (R)

Greg's Smoked Salmon in the foreground (There was plenty more in the kitchen!)

In addition to the smoking, Greg also whipped up a huge batch of authentic Southern Brunswick stew and the most wonderful (authentic again) Shrimp n Grits I've ever experienced! (Yes, the recipe and pic of this one will be coming later!)

Side dishes 
Deviled eggs (yay Iris! delish!); Fruits Baked with Port and Southern Rice and Pea Salad by MariaKale and Tender Greens by Donna (our gracious and patient hostess); Spring Rolls by Brian; and Bonnie made a particularly amazing Grilled Blue Cheese and Bacon Potato Salad and also a Green Bean, Grape & Pecan Pasta Salad. Bonnie, I WANT the potato salad recipe! Please?


Grilled Blue Cheese and Bacon Potato Salad by Bonnie


Sweet temptations of all variety overloaded the sideboard Sherron devloped a smoky, sweet, good-for-you (sort of) Maple Bacon Granola to adorn Peach Cobbler with Sweet Biscuits to be made on-site and I brought a Bourbon Pecan Praline Sauce to further gild that lily. Peanut & Pretzeled Texas Sheetcake with vanilla ice cream (and more of that Bourbon Pecan Praline Sauce) was another planned dessert. 

We ended up not doing the Peach Cobbler as there were more desserts than could ever be consumed.  Maria brought Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Pecan Pie with Chocolate Chips & Kahluah and more than I can even remember. Thank you, Maria! Our sweet tooth(s?) were more than satisfied.

Far more dishes than mentioned above were brought by more members than were mentioned here...sorry for any omissions...I ran out of space! 

We don't have a date yet, but we do have a theme for our next shindig. It's a Baby Shower for Sherron! We're all thinking tiny things, little things...BABY things! We're "expecting" yet another wonderful Food With Friends!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An Evening to Remember at Table 21 - VOLT

Occasionally I enjoy a particular dish on an evening of dining out only to return home to recreate it. Why? It might be I'm intrigued by the components of the dish or by a technique or even because I know I make it better!  Well, THAT'S most certainly not gonna happen this time! 

There are experiences that cannot be recreated. Nor should they be. Such was the stellar dining extravaganza that occurred at VOLT Restaurant in Frederick, Maryland with Marti, one of my closest friends and definitely my BFF. Best Foodie Friend, that is.
A year ago or so I had the pleasure of being a gastronomic traveler through the adventurous menu at VOLT. But that was for lunch and this, THIS was for dinner at the respected Table 21. Yes, the Chefs' Table featuring 21 (count 'em), TWENTY-ONE courses! I told you it was extravagant!  

Just getting a reservation for the Table was a coup in itself. As Webster defines it, a coup is "A notable or successful stroke or move." Reservations for Table 21 are taken exactly 30 days before. If you wanted a reservation for March 15, you had to be quick to the phone on February 15..and we were. Success! We scored two precious spots out of only eight available seats at Table 21.

Days passed slowly, the anticipation grew, until finally there we were in Frederick almost giddily climbing the stairs to what promised to be an epicurean evening as never before. After a lovely cocktail in the small bar across the hall from our dining area, we were soon seated.


Wine pairings were ordered by some, cocktail pairings ordered by others. A choice of still or sparkling water filled our water goblets. We made small talk with two diners to our left and the two couples to our right. It felt like the quiet in the theater just before the curtain rises. The first course was served.  

The meal was kind of like fireworks starting with a simple, but elegant pile of light, airy and crisp lobster chips to dip into a pool of potato, sour cream and chive oil. There was even a tiny little mound of caviar. This twist on chips and dip elicited oohs and aahs from the cozy table of eight overlooking the kitchen! 

Chips and Dip Lobster

We progressed from cold beginnings through a mind boggling selection of exotic ingredients as each empty plate was cleared and each new course presented. Not just exotic items tickled our palates (sometimes literally). Simple, ordinary, everyday items like carrots, celery, beets or tuna became far more than I ever imagined they could be.

Red and Golden Beets, Goat Cheese Mousse, Orange and Sherry

The dessert courses? Like a fireworks grand finale. Contrasts of smooth and cold, crunchy and velvety, powdery and hard, sweet and tart and even bitter teased until the very end in a cacophony of sensations. Textures, temperatures and tastes exploded one after the other until the meal ended with quiet calmness. Really, we should have burst into applause. Hindsight, you know.   

Chocolate Textures and Caramel

As the checks were distributed, so were rolled and tied copies of the night's menu along with beribboned boxes of small dessert treasures to help remember the night's delights.

By the end of the evening, strangers around a kitchen table became friends. Host, servers, chefs, bartenders and diners said warm goodbyes and even hugs were exchanged. After all, sharing food, fun, wine, laughs and eventually even friendship makes for not just a meal to remember, but a dining adventure never to forget.  

Special moments:
* I was never made to feel "different" when substitutions were made because of the gluten issue. Frank, our warm, wonderful host, after announcing the components of each course then described to me quietly what was different on my plate. In some cases, I think I got the better dish! 

*In talking with the group of four on our right, exchanging where we were from we discovered not only do they know my goddaughter and her husband, their kids play together. Yes folks, it is definitely a very small world. 

*My first sweetbreads! And I LOVED them! Crispy on the outside, smooth and flavorful on the inside, accompanied by
bacon, Swiss chard and parsnip - they were one of my favorite parts of the meal! 

Delicious Sweetbreads!

*A bright green foam described as wasabi-infused (I missed the rest of the description) was the palate tickler I referred to above. Tiny little pops exploded with surprising flavor with each bite. The "pops" were tabiko fish roe that were more like champagne bubbles than anything else I can compare them to. The yellowfin tuna, avocado mousse and jasmine rice were the perfect complement.

See the bright green bubbly foam? Wasabi-infused Tabiko Roe!

*Candied Buddha's Hand whipped with cream and butter - spread on the bottom of a plate with seared kampachi (fish), chives, green apple and ginger had us teasing Celeste that we were going to run off with the whole container of the butter! 
*The pork belly. Oh the pork belly! No more need be said. Enjoy the pic!

Pork Belly with Stinging Nettle (it didn't), yellowfoot Chanterelle & Pearl Onion
*Probably the most special moment of all wasn't a moment. It lasted the entire evening. The completely p
rofessional, yet very warm and friendly service, from the moment we arrived to the moment we left, from every single member of the Volt staff family, made the night complete. Thank you Frank, Katie, Celeste and every member of the Volt family.

NOTE: My apologies for the quality of the photos. I didn't want to be "that" person with the camera and ruin the other guests experience at Table 21 so I used my phone. Thank you Volt for allowing us all to "take all the pictures you want!" 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A St. Patrick's Day Toast With A Cocktail AND A Cupcake!

Back in our halcyon co-op studio days in historic Ellicott City, MD, artist friends and I spent long, productive hours working and collaborating over our various media. Creativity in that space abounded! 

Sometimes artistically gratifying days were followed by equally enjoyable late afternoon cocktails at the old Phoenix Emporium on Main Street. It was the Eighties and the cocktails were sweet, creamy and POTENT!
Many a Toasted Almond, White or Black Russian or Nutty Irishman were enjoyed together while sketches, doodles and plans were penciled on napkins at the bar. Those ideas that didn't fall victim to melting ice and errant liquids sometimes came to to fruition in the form of stained glass or acrylic and canvas. Those were the days.

Flash forward thirty years and here I am still coming up with ideas over a cocktail, except the medium now is food and drink.

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I started thinking about a Nutty Irishman again. I'd just bought bottles of peanut butter vodka and Bailey's Caramel Irish Creme when I was in Michigan last time. Why not use those together in a twist of the classic cocktail and make it a Peanutty Irishman? So I did. And it was good!
Next, I thought, why not make a cupcake out of those same flavors? So I did. And it was GOOD!!! Damn good. Creamy peanut butter and butterscotch in the cupcake part served as a base for richly smooth and decadent Bailey's and Peanut Butter Vodka Buttercream. Crowned with chopped and sugared peanuts, the cupcake became a dessert reflection of the new cocktail.

Funny enough, all these years later, the Phoenix is still right there on Main Street. Older, maybe wiser, certainly a little yellowed around the edges and, perhaps, beginning to show its age...or maybe that's just me....

Peanutty Irishman Cupcakes - Gluten-Free

  • 1 package yellow cake mix, Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free
  • 1/2 package butterscotch pudding mix, instant
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup Bailey's Irish Cream, Caramel
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs

  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 4 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream, Caramel
  • 1 tablespoon vodka, Nutliquor brand peanut butter vodka - or other nut flavored vodka or liqueur

  • 1/4 cup salted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using regular paper cupcake liners, place the liners into 18 cupcake pan holes; if using tulip cupcake liners (like I did) just use 9...these are double size cupcakes!

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, mix the cake mix, dry instant pudding, peanut butter, Bailey's oil and eggs until everything is mixed, scrape down sides of bowl and mix on medium another minute until well incorporated.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Bake approximately 20 minutes for the smaller cupcakes - use a toothpick to test doneness. For the larger tulip liners, bake 35-40 minutes. Again, use a toothpick to test doneness. Don't overbake. Cool completely on racks.

Frosting: In the medium bowl of an electric mixer, combine sifted powdered sugar, butter, shortening, 4 T. Bailey's and 1 T. peanut butter vodka. Beat slowly until the powdered sugar is completely incorporated, increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. If the consistency is too stiff, add a little Bailey's or vodka.

Peanut topping: In a food processor or blender, pulse the peanuts and sugar until finely chopped. Don't overprocess or you'll have peanut butter instead!

Assembly: Frost each cupcake using the method you prefer - pipe it on or spread it with a knife. Sprinkle with the peanut sugar mixture and serve. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Regular (Gluten FULL) version: Use a regular boxed yellow cake mix and prepare according to package directions using a WHOLE box (1/2 cup) of butterscotch pudding mix. 

You'll get about 24 or so cupcakes from a regular cake mix. Bake at the recommended temperature on the box for the recommended number of minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick.

Also make double the amount of frosting and sugared chopped peanuts. Did you figure out that gluten-free mixes are only half the size of a regular cake mix?  

AND...the cocktail!

Peanutty Irishman Cocktail

  • 2 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream - Caramel
  • 1 oz. Nutliquor Peanut Butter Vodka - or another nut liquor or nut liqueur
  • 1 oz. heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup salted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

First, make the sugared chopped peanuts as in the cupcake recipe above. Dip the rim of a martini glass or coupe in Bailey's and then in the chopped sugared peanuts. Set aside.

In a cocktail shaker 3/4 filled with ice, add the Bailey's, vodka and heavy cream. Cap securely and shake vigorously until the outside of the tin is frosted. Strain into the prepared glass and serve.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Thai Red Curry Coconut Cod - Gluten-Free!

Thai flavors thrill me! The exotic nuances of coconut milk, lemongrass, curry, hot peppers, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil and even fish sauce tickles my palate like no other cuisine. The big bonus for we celiacs and others with gluten sensitivities is that many Thai foods are naturally gluten free.

Thank you Thailand for giving us rice noodles instead of wheat noodles, rice paper wrappers instead of wonton wrappers made with (what else?) wheat. There are some lovely soups and salads that fit the GF lifestyle to a "T" and even most of the curries are soy sauce and gluten-free. Be sure to check with the restaurant kitchen about hidden gluten or that there aren't cross contamination issues.

Of course, one SURE way to be certain your Thai meal is gluten-free is to make it at home yourself. Difficult? Well, that depends. If you're going to be all strict about authenticity, you might be in for more than I'm willing to deal with for a quick weeknight meal. Then again, if you're not looking for a quick meal or if you're trying to impress company, go whole hog and full on Thai. For me most times, I'm looking for a Thai(ish) treat in a hurry. 

Which brings me to today's recipe. Yep, another fish/seafood dish for Lent or just for your meatless arsenal. Thai Red Curry Coconut Cod came about as a result of watching friends enjoy Friday Fish Frys and missing out on being able to indulge myself. I LOVE Fish Frys! I MISS Fish Frys! I am tired of having a side salad (hold the croutons, please) while tablemates chow down of one of my favorite foods. So I fixed that problem at home.

Instead of wheat flour, I used rice flour for the dredge - you do know that Bobby Flay uses rice flour for his own crispy fried fish, don't you? He doesn't use it because it's gluten-free, he uses it because it makes a light, crispy and crunchy batter. If it's good enough for BF, it's good enough for me...and gluten-free to boot!

Here's what I did. I dipped the pieces of cod in coconut milk and then in coconut accented rice flour to really emphasize the coconut-iness of the finished dish. The sauce used even more coconut milk, Thai red curry paste, fish sauce and other items I had in the pantry along with green onions and red & yellow peppers for color and more crunch.  

To plate it up, I used a base of brown rice (yep, I used the frozen Trader Joe's again - I told you I was doing a quick meal!), pieces of crispy coconut cod, a glaze of gorgeous red sauce and snappy veggies. 

My Fish Fry friends might even experience feelings of envy over this tantalizing Thai temptation! Fish sandwich? Nice, but run of the mill. Thai Red Curry Coconut Cod? One exotically beautiful, sweet, tangy, zippy, crunchy and absolutely delicious dish!

Thai Red Curry Coconut Cod
 Serves 4

  • 2 nice cod fillets, cut across into 3-4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, I like the lite version
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • canola oil, to a depth of about 1/2" in your skillet

  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk, lite again
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, be sure it's gluten-free to make this GF
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

  •  cooked brown or white rice

Prepare the sauce: In a saucepan, combine vinegar, honey, curry paste, ginger, water, salt, granulated garlic and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and whisk until thoroughly combined. 

Mix the cornstarch and 2 T. water into a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the sauce, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer again. Stir until the sauce becomes thickened.  Stir in the veggies, remove from heat and set aside while you make the fish.

Mix rice flour, coconut flakes and salt. Transfer the mixture to a plate; add coconut milk to another plate. Dredge the fish pieces first in coconut milk, then in the flour mixture, coating thoroughly over all sides and edges. Set aside.

Add the oil to a skillet to the depth of about 1/2". Bring oil to 375 degrees. Once the oil has come to temp, add the fish pieces carefully a few pieces at a time - do in several batches if necessary, just don't crowd the pieces. Brown on all sides and remove to a paper towel covered platter until all pieces are done.

To serve: Place the fish pieces on top of brown or regular rice - even rice noodles would be wonderful - then spoon the sauce over the fish being sure to get lots of veggies in each serving.

NOTE: Try using shrimp or scallops instead of cod...or your favorite fish fry variety. For your non-fish eating friends, try using strips of chicken! It's all good.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

One Skillet Garlic Spinach and Shrimp Quickie

I promised you a couple of new twists on old favorites for Lent. This one is quick, easy and low-cal to boot!

Honestly, it took less than ten minutes to put together in ONE pan. Okay, I may have cheated just a teensy bit with frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's. Come on...that's being smart and efficient, not cheating!

With no further intro, here's a dish that's sure to become one of your own go-to dinners. Short on time but don't want to skimp on flavor or nutrition? This is it. (I called it a quickie because it's fast, but seriously....who doesn't love a good quickie now and then?)

One Skillet Garlic Spinach and Shrimp Quickie

Serves 2

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, use baby spinach and you don't even have to chop it!
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • pinch oregano, or even TWO large!
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 12 shrimp, raw, peeled - tails on if you wish
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed over the finished dish

  • brown rice, prepared - check the freezer aisle at Trader Joe's for their cooked brown rice - super simple in a flash!

In a large skillet, heat the oil, add the garlic and spinach together. Stir until the garlic begins to soften. Add the tomato halves and the seasonings. Stir. Add shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink and opaque.

Pile rice onto 2 plates and divide the shrimp and spinach mixture over top. Give each plate a healthy squeeze of lemon. Serve!

NOTE: You do know this is naturally gluten-free, don't you? Now THAT'S good news!