Monday, May 28, 2012

#210 A Zesty Punch with Singapore Chili Shrimp

The question is 'What's the big deal about this shrimp dish?'
I'll say the color and flavor.....I heard a few "ahhh"s and "oooh"s from my family when I set this plate on the dinner table!! Trust me--make this one at home and I can assure you it will be as 'dramatic' for you as it was for me. A recipe adapted from a well-loved tradional 'Singapore Chili Crab'. It doesn't have to be Crab to spruce up this spicy sweet sauce so I substituted some fresh shrimp instead. The sauce may look a bit too spicy for those of you who are a bit 'wary' of red chilis, but it is really pretty mild and a perfect cornocopia of asian flavors. Besides, it will get your taste buds tingling and your tummy very very happy.

Large Shrimp 2 lbs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup corn oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 inch piece fresh finely chopped ginger
6 cloves garlic finely chopped
3-5 red chillies crushed
2 cups ready made thick tomato sauce in a can
1 cup water
2 Tblspn Soy Sauce
2 Tblspn Sweet chili sauce
1 Tblspn rice wine vinegar
2 Tblspn soft brown sugar
1 tspn chili sauce

The tomato and sugar in the sauce balances the heat out,  so the shrimp absorbs the rest of the gorgeous flavors. As much as I tried, I've found it impossible to saute peeled shrimp in a hot skillet without overcooking them and making them tough. But then, the shell shields the shrimp from intense heat and helps to hold the moisture inside. So this time, I slit open the shell with a pair of kitchen scissors, deveined them and kept the shell on so the shrimp turned out perfectly cooked while the sauce found its way between the shell and shrimp, keeping them moist and juicy.  I'm getting hungry just talking about it :)
 Let's get down to make it..............

1. Devein, shell, clean and wash the shrimp. Leave the shell on for added flavor if you prefer.
Drain well, dust off with flour all overshake off any excess.
2. Heat about 2 Tblspn oil in a Wok and cook the shrimp gently turning until it turns red.
3. Remove and set aside. Add the remaining oil to the wok, cook the onion, ginger, garlic and chillies
for about 5-7 mins or until soft.
4. Add tomato sauce, vinegar, water, soy sauce, chili sauces, vinegar and brown sugar. Bring to boil
and cook for 15 mins. Slowly add the shrimp back into the wok and simmer for 5 mins until thick,
do not overcook the shrimp or it will be tough. Serve with steamed white or brown rice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

#209 Greek Inspired Cucumber, Tomato, Avocado and Tuna Salad

Today's summery blast with temperatures soaring high came quite unexpectedly after the rains. I'm tempted to toss up a quick Greek salad for dinner. My instinct told me to start with cucumber, red onion and tomato. The inspiration grew from a simple Greek Salad I once enjoyed at Delia's. I took the plunge and whipped this up  in a jiffy. The best part is that it has such few steps and includes all fresh ingredients too!! I started chopping red onions, tomato, sweet bell peppers and cucumber and then tossed them with a home-made citrus dressing sprinkling over some crumbled goat cheese. Big juicy chunks of avocado and tuna from a can and here's a whole summer meal and you can say Opa again !!

Tuna in Water- 1 can
Red Onion chopped-1 Tblspn
Grape Tomatoes sliced- 5
Sweet yellow or orange pepper- 1/2 cubed
Cucumber- 1
Avocado- 1
Goat Cheese
Salt, Olive oil, Lime juice, honey, crushed red pepper and garlic
(Prepare a dressing with the last set of ingredients starting with salt to suit your taste)

1. I mixed together  1/2 tspn salt, pepper, garlic paste, 1 Tbslpn lime juice and olive oil,
1 tspn honey and whisk together until well incorporated. Taste and season well.
2. Working quickly to prevent discoloration, cut the avocado lengthwise, twist the seed out.
3. Run the tip of your knife and score lines in the avocado halves, scoop out with a spoon.
4. Peel the skin of the cucumber, scoop out the seeds and cube into a glass bowl.
5. Toss the chopped onions, dressing, peppers and tomatoes and mix well.
6. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Then toss the avocado and well drained tuna and gently toss.
7. Garnish with crumbled goat cheese.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

#208 Roasted Beets, Orange and Goat Cheese Salad

The summer heat is hitting the streets of DC already! In our area the evenings cool off just enough to take brisk evening walks and somehow at noon the sun can hit us real hard. But, let me remind you that winter was just behind us and we must relish the joy and warmth bestowed upon us for the next few months. It will not last for long.  Nevertheless, I'm going to make the best of summer salads to cool me down. Today, the humble 'beet' has been chosen to play a lead role in this refreshing salad, along with citrus and chevre the salad comes together with a spicy kick from the sprinkling of Arugula at the end. If you choose to leave out the Arugula it is still as good because the simple citrus dressing is absolutely 'to die for' !!

Orange- 2 medium
Goat Cheese- 2 Tblspns
Lime juice- 1Tblspn
Orange juice- 1Tblspn
The jest of one orange
olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

1. Roast the beets in the oven at 375 degrees F for about 30 mins wrapped in foil.
2. Remove, cool and peel the skin off. Slice into discs.
3. Skin the orange and slice into sections.
4. Make a dressing from the orange and lime juices, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well.
5. When ready to serve, over lettuce or arugula, place the slices of beets, then orange slices.
6. Crumble goat cheese and grated orange jest for added flavor. Pour the
dressing over the salad.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

#207 Cherished Memories of Mother's Day

'Happy Mother's Day' to all the mothers out there!!
Our appreciation for down-home family food is growing by the day although we've already had some good ones over the years.  Do you ever make a certain recipe in your kitchen and it brings back memories of time spent with friends or loved ones? I'm sure there is always at least one such dish associated with every family and you all must have at least one such lasting memory.

For my family the kitchen is such a santuary just to gather around,  slice veggies, chop, cook, laugh and eat. We enjoy quality time spent in it's warmth, watching food being prepared before it is placed on the dinner table. Today is Mother's Day and I enjoyed time well spent with my girls and R, and in return I decided to make something special to say thanks for making me a "mother". This time with a simple afternoon treat for tea.  Puff pastry is a family favorite and I've some in my freezer.  I am going to thaw out the puff pastry I made earlier Puff Pastry before I left for a brunch at The Tabard Inn. The experience was absolutely wonderful since the Inn makes every piece of bread, doughnut and bagel from scratch with the freshest of ingredients right here in the kitchen. It is considered the the best Brunch in the DC area because of this reputation.
Here a little peek into my Mother's Day brunch.

Looking out of the Tabard Inn's dining area at the courtyard outside
My Smoked Salmon and whiting with house made bagels, cornichons and salad
Shredded Beets- 1/2 cup
Shredded Cabbage- 1 cup
Finely chopped onions-1 cup
Potato-1/2 potato cooked and mashed
garlic -ginger paste- 1/2 tspn
Garam Masala-1/4 tsn
Salt and pepper to taste
Egg wash and Olive oil as needed
My Flaky Savory Puff Pastry Cups

1. Remove the pastry dough from the freezer a few hours ahead to get to room temperature.
Roll out using a light dusting of flour and make sure to make a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.
Cut into small squares or circles.
2. Lightly spray the cups of muffin or cupcake pans with butter spray. Place the pastry squares
in each cupcake hole and press lightly with fingertips. Now brush lightly with egg wash.
3. Use a fork to make a few marks in the bottom of each cup. Keep aside.
4. Heat the oven to about 375 degrees .
5.While the oven is heating, place a pan on medium heat.
6. Add abput 2 Tblspns of oil to the pan and toss in the onions
saute until soft and light brown, add the ginger-garlic paste followed by shredded beets and cabbage.
Let cook with a little salt and pepper until dry and completely cooked.
Add more chili or black pepper if desired and toss in the garam masala saute for a minute.
7. Lastly add the mashed potato and turn off the fire. Mix well together to allow the flavors to blend.
8. Now place a spoonful of the vegetable mixture in the cup and bake in the oven until the pastry
turnsto a golden brown color. If you desire,before baking you can pull together all four ends of the pastry square or hold together like a purse. Bake the purses until golden.
Serve warm with ketchup or hot sauce

Sunday, May 6, 2012

#206 Cabbage Slaw topped with Pesto Chicken Pinwheels

Summer is almost here and with it the warm weather!!! Have you noticed that the appearance of the moon is changing these days? If you peek through the window towards the sky you’ll notice that it is appearing bigger with a beautiful glow. Forecasters relate it to a phenomenon in the planetary object that  seems to give it this new look. So while you are enjoying the good weather and the glorious changes on the moon make yourself this bright and re-freshing salad for Cinco de Mayo. 

What triggers ideas for my meals? Most often I get cravings to eat something special and it is usually something that is not easily procureable from a restaurant. I tend to use whatever I have in the fridge at a particular time, or I may pull out something that I had frozen earlier and use that before it loses its fresh flavor.  This time it was the latter and that means my Basil and Mint Pesto.  But again, this dish looked utterly beautiful when I served it and I thought I could easily serve this as an appetizer for my next party (BTW, I'm hosting a bridal shower for V's best friend this Summer), and besides this one turned out with a total knockout flavor!!

1/2 cup of
1/2 cup softened goat cheese
1/2 cup Sundried tomato and a pinch of red pepper flakes
processed in a food processor until smooth.
Chicken Breasts 2
Mayyonnaise- 2 tablespoon

1. Place the chicken breasts on a steady cutting board, and using a sharp knife slice into one flat piece(butterfly each breast). Open out the halves without completely seperating the breast. Then using a meat tenderizer and a plastic wrap, beat down the chicken meat until it is flattened but not too thin.
2. In a blender or food processor pulse the sundried tomato along with a bit of its oil and a pinch of crushed red pepper to form a sundried tomato pesto.
3. Place each flattened chicken breast on a wax paper and start applying each layer of  filling.
Start withgoat cheese, followed by pesto and then the tomato pesto. The goat cheese must go first since it sticks to the meat well.
3. Using the wax paper slowly roll the chicken from the side nearest to you and tightly but gently
roll into a cigar shape and twist the wax paper tightly over it. Store in Fridge or freezer until ready to use.
4. When ready to serve, dip the defrosted chicken cigars into Mayyonnaise and bake them at 375 degrees until the meat is tender. You may pan fry them until brown and cooked inside.
5. When cool, slice as thin as possible and serve over stir fried vegetables or a salad.

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