June 29, 2011

Spiced Up Steamed Shrimp

2 lb fresh shrimp
2 jalapenos, diced
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Old Bay
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds


Add everything but the shrimp to a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp. Cover and boil until fully cooked.

My thoughts:
Summer is in full swing and I am always trying to think of new quick yet delicious things to make. Steamed shrimp is a perennial favorite but I normally just toss in some Old Bay and call it a day. We're going away for a quick trip soon and I was trying to use up some produce I didn't think would make it so I chopped it up, added some mustard seed (I love how soft they get) and boiled away. I didn't think it would make that much of a difference but it really did. It was the best steamed shrimp I've ever had yet it only took about 15 minutes (including chopping).

June 27, 2011

Dirty Rice

1/2 lb ground turkey thighs
1/2 lb chicken livers, pureed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 large bunch spring onion, bulbs and greens diced (separate use)
2 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano*
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/3 cups chicken stock (divided use)
2 1/2 cups hot cooked white rice**

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat some oil. Add the meat and the white parts of the spring onion. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large chunks until it is nearly caramelized and is starting to stick to the pan. Add 1/3 cup of chicken stock and spices and cook until the stock evaporates. Add the vegetables and cook until they are soft.

Stir in the rice, herbs, remaining stock and chopped spring onion greens. Stir until the liquid is absorbed then serve.

*I used hot and spicy oregano from my herb garden
**I cooked ours in our rice cooker using chicken stock instead of water along with a bay leaf and some fresh oregano

My thoughts:
This was so, so good! Dirty rice gets its name from its appearance but don't let that (or the liver) keep you from making this dish. It is a great alternative to rice pilaf as a side dish but honestly, I'd be happy eating a bowl of this as my whole entree. It is just really satisfyingly hardy yet light with the right amount of spice.
This is a slightly quicker way to make dirty rice than many recipes I've seen. Since it uses cooked rice, there is no worry that the rice will be undercooked. Despite the absence of a long simmering time, the meat is incredibly tender because of the evaporating broth step and the juices the vegetables release when they are added. I like adding a bit of extra onion (especially sweet spring onion) in with the meat at the beginning because it adds this really rich, caramelized flavor to the final dish. Since the vegetables are added later in the cooking time, they retain a crisper texture and brighter color. Adding the herbs right at the end keeps their flavor fresh.

June 25, 2011

Plum-Rainier Cherry Butter

4 lb plums, pitted and quartered
8 oz pitted Rainier cherries
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a 4 quart slow cooker, stir. Turn on low and cook overnight (about 8-10 hrs) with the lid slightly askew to allow for some evaporation to occur. The mixture should be thick and paste-like when ready. If the mixture isn't totally smooth, pulse it with an immersion blender. Prep your jars and lids. Pour the butter in the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: about 4 8-oz jars

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here are some of my other favorite canning books and supplies.

My thoughts:
Making fruit butters in the slow cooker is a great option for people like me who do not have central air conditioning and would like to avoid heating up the kitchen as much as possible. You still have to boil the water but at least you don't have a bunch of fruit cooking too. I tried out my new cherry pitter and it was awesome! I can't wait to use it again. Anyway, this fruit butter is a fun alternative to and just as easy (maybe easier!) as jam making

June 24, 2011

Hawaiian Inspired Short Ribs

3 1/2 lb boneless beef short ribs*
20 oz canned pineapple rings in juice
1 kiwi, halved

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/3 cup ponzu sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons ginger juice
2 tablespoons sesame oil

Rub the meat on all sides with the kiwi. Discard the kiwi. Place the meat and all remaining ingredients in a resealable bag or marinating container and refrigerate for 24 hrs. Prep your grill. Place a foil tray filled with water in the grill. Arrange the coals around the tray. Place the beef over the pan and cook slow and low for about 1 hr-90 minutes or until fully cooked and tender.

*If you use bone-in, use about 5 lbs.

My thoughts:
This was a fairly fabulous dinner. I'd heard that rubbing ribs with kiwi makes them extra tender and I am not sure if that was because of the kiwi or what, but it is worth a shot, right? Anyway, these were super simple to make and really tender and juicy. I just dumped everything in a marinating container overnight then grilled them. The water underneath not only catches the fat dripping off (no flare ups!) but it also helps keep them moist. One of my favorite no fuss grilling projects.

June 22, 2011

Mango Marinated Grilled Boneless Pork Ribs

1 1/2 lb boneless pork ribs
3 mangos, cubed (I used Ataulfo)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon ginger juice
1 tablespoon pepper sherry
freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a resealable bag or marinating container. Kind of squish it a bit so the mango break down. Refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Prep grill. Grease or spray with grilling nonstick spray the grill rack. Place the pork on the rack and cook over low heat until fully cooked. If desired, place the mango in a grill wok and grill that as well.

My thoughts:
As you may have guessed, I love pairing mango with pork. While I don't like overly sweet things as main dishes, mangos have a sweet tartness that can handle savory flavors. Pork has a light natural sweetness that I think does well with fruit. So, mango + pork = an unbeatable combination. In this case, the mangos both tenderize and flavor the meat. I went ahead and grilled the mango after I fished out the pork and I am glad it did, it had a smoky-roasted flavor and a meltingly soft texture.

June 20, 2011

Papaya-Ginger Beer Baked Beans

1 can hickory smoke Spam, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 papaya (cut up)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb navy beans
1/3 cup cup sriracha
8 oz ginger beer
1 tablespoon roasted ginger
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon cloves
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

The day before you want to serve: Place the beans in a pot (or slow cooker insert) and fill until the beans are under about 4 inches of water.

The next day: drain the beans and pour them into the slow cooker. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the spam. Cook on low 8-10 hours or until the beans are soft. Fry the Spam in a nonstick skillet until quite crisp and nearly caramelized around the 7 to 8 hour mark. Thoroughly drain the spam on paper towel lined plates. Stir into the Spam. If the beans are looking a little dry and are not quite done, add a little water or more ginger beer. Continue cooking at least 1/2 hour after adding the Spam. Stir before serving.

My thoughts:
Someone's husband has been asking for baked beans with Spam for a whole year. Last year's Hawaiian inspired experiment was just too exciting for him. And I swear, they were really, really good. People have had thrids and fourths when I've made them. So, I am back this year with a new recipe. I found hickory smoked Spam at the store (who knew?) and thoguht they'd be perfect for spicy, smoky beans. I added the papaya for sweetness and the ginger beer for a bit of a kick.Yum! They look like regular baked beans but are so much better.

June 17, 2011

Grilled Asparagus & Mushrooms with Stilton

1 lb asparagus, halved horizontally
8 oz crimini mushrooms, halved
3 oz Stilton, crumbled
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper

Prep grill. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Place the mustard seeds, asparagus and mushrooms in a resealable bag. Shake. Drizzle with dressing. Shake to coat. Add to a nonstick grill wok
and grill until tender, tossing occasionally.

Sprinkle with cheese prior to serving.

My thoughts:
Who doesn't love grilled vegetables? These are made even better with a bit of Stilton but they would be awesome without it as well. The asparagus is caramelized, deeping the flavor and the mushrooms absorbed the vinaigrette and smoke really well.  I loved the slight crunchy pop of the mustard seeds which provided a great texture contrast to the rest of the dish. I had this as a side but it would make a full meal is served over rice or pasta.

June 15, 2011

Pernod Turkey Cutlets

4 boneless turkey cutlets
1 onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1/3 cup chicken or turkey stock
1/4 cup Pernod
2 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1/4 cup "instant" flour (like Wondra)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter

Sprinkle both sides of each cutlet with Herbs de Provence. Sprinkle both sides with flour to coat. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the turkey brown on each side. Add the stock and Pernod and cook until the turkey is fully cooked and the liquid reduces slightly.

My thoughts:
This is a great weeknight recipe. Not only is it quick but it is really flavorful. I think of it as sort of a twist on Chicken Piccata. I love using turkey cutlets because not only is it a change from the usual chicken, the slightly stronger flavor can hold up to more seasonings. The Pernod adds a slight anise flavor that blended well with the Herbs de Provence.

June 13, 2011

Summer Vegetable & Chicken Stew

3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
4 Serrano peppers, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 onion, diced
1 ear's worth of corn kernels
2 cups diced okra
5 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chervil
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottom pan. Add the zucchini, onion, garlic and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent but not browned. Add the chicken and continues to cook about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

My thoughts:
Our local farm store had some lovely okra they grew themselves and some tomatoes and corn from a farm a little further south where those things are already in season. I snatched them right up! This time in June can be a little frustrating, all of the early produce (rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries) is winding down and looking a bit dodgy yet not much else is ready for harvest. In a week or two we will have more selection but for now, I am happy buying produce from a few short states away. So I combined them to make this fresh tasting summer stew that was just perfect for a rainy June evening.

June 11, 2011

Strawberry-Rhubarb Mint Ginger Jam

7 cups finely diced strawberries (about 3 quarts)
3 cups diced rhubarb
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger*
1 bunch fresh mint
4 1/2-5 cups sugar (depends on how sweet your berries are)
1 box liquid pectin (6 oz., 2 little packets)


Prep jars/lids for canning. Lightly bruise the mint and stuff as much as you can into a tea ball. Set aside. Add the sugar, tea ball, strawberries, ginger bits and rhubarb to a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Smash any large chunks. For a smoother jam, remove the tea ball and pulse with a immersion blender. Cook until the jam looks thick, about 20 minutes. Add the pectin (both packets!). Continue cooking at a low (rolling) boil for 5 minutes. Remove the tea ball if you haven't already. Fill the jars. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: I ended up with 8 8-oz jars and 1 4-oz jar

*I actually used The Ginger People's Crystallized Ginger Chips, which are tiny bits of "baby" ginger rolled in cane sugar.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
Strawberry and rhubarb are an almost cliche combination. Possibly because rhubarb's tartness tempers strawberry's sweetness but it could just be that they are available for the same short season. Honestly, I try to avoid pairing the two because I like rhubarb just on its own but when faced with some strawberries that even though just bought today from the farmers market had to be eaten today or we would be the proud owners of a bowl of moldy strawberry slime instead of berries. It is pretty late in the season for them and they were on the small and tarter side but still very tasty. We also picked up what I fear may be the last of the rhubarb* so I thought why not hook the two up. I didn't want it to be boring though so I tossed in some mint from our garden and some of the ginger chips my husband found for me. The result? Anything but ordinary! It is sweet, tart, spicy and herbly minty all at the same time. I might have to horde these jars for myself.

*I did freeze about 2 1/2 lbs of it this year. Planning ahead!

June 10, 2011

Grilled Garlic Bread

1 loaf good quality Italian bread
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese, grated
black pepper

shredded fresh mozzarella (optional)

Prep your grill. Cut the bread into 1/2 inch thick rounds. In a small bowl, combine parsley, pepper, Parmesan, garlic, butter and olive oil to form a paste. Brush one side of each round with olive oil and the other side with the garlic mixture. Top with mozzarella if desired. Place on the grill and grill 10 minutes or until just golden.

My thoughts:
I had the idea for this over the winter and while I thought it sounded like a good idea, I was worried it would fail in execution. Bread can burn very quickly, even in the oven I worried it the grill would be too temperamental. I shouldn't have worried (after all, I did make a cake on the grill before) it turned out great! I did keep an eye on it but it didn't go from crisp to cinders in a second or anything. In fact the bread was perfectly golden and perfectly crisp. I loved how the cheese took on a smoky flavor and the garlic spread was soft and butter. Perfect to make with any Italian dish you happen to be grilling or a fresh salad.

June 08, 2011

Hot Pepper Pickled Asparagus

6-8 pounds asparagus, cut into jar sized pieces*
6 cloves garlic
6 long, skinny hot peppers
6 bay leaves
3 shallots, minced
4 1/2 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup pickling salt
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 teaspoons dill seeds
3 teaspoons dillweed
3 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
3/4 teaspoon chernuska seeds (Russian black caraway)

Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Prep the lids/jars. Evenly divide all of the spices, peppers and garlic between 6 wide mouth pint jars**. Add the asparagus, leaving 1/4 inch headroom.

Pour in the vinegar mixture. Close the jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to sit 1 week before eating.

*If you want to can only the top half, save the rest for something else.

**If you have 12 oz tall jelly jars you can can larger stalks. I couldn't find them.

Yield: about 6 wide mouth pints's worth of asparagus top halves. I went ahead and pickled the bottom halves and that yielded another 4 wide mouth pints.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
We found some late season asparagus at the farmers market this week and I was so excited! I'd taught myself how to can after asparagus season last year and I've always wanted to make asparagus pickles. They are so good yet so expensive at the store. Pickling is a great first canning project because you get the practice in but you don't have to be terribly careful. No fruit that might scorch, no eyeballing thickening, just dissolving salt in (cheap!) vinegar and water. Easy-peasy! I made these pickles with my very capable intern, Jillian, who had never canned before and it was a breeze. The pickles have a great flavor and I swear, the hardest part is cutting them to fit into the jars.

June 06, 2011

Gorgonzola Garlic Chive Pea Shoot Potato Salad

2 lb red skin potatoes, quartered (and cooked)
1 cup 1/4 inch chopped garlic chives
1 cup pea shoots, woody stems removed

3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Place the potatoes, shoots and garlic chives in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the potatoes and toss to coat. Chill 1 hour before serving if possible.

My thoughts:
This is basically June in a potato salad. Pea shoots, potatoes and garlic chives are all in season here in Baltimore right now and I combined them to form one wonderful salad. I love the mild garlic flavor the chives added and the pea shoots added the right amount of sweet crispness. I had gorgonzola leftover from making dressing so that was a logical addition and added a lovely savory note that contrasted with the fresh vegetables without making the whole salad seem heavy. Yum. The perfect salad for a picnic.

PS: My husband said that is the best potato salad he has ever had.

June 03, 2011

Citrus Rubbed Coca-Cola Chicken

1 ~6-lb chicken (don't go too big, you want to be able to close the grill!)
1 open 12 oz can Coke
juice and zest of one orange
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
coarse kosher or sea salt

Place a foil bowl (buy a round foil tin or fashion one out of regular foil) under the center of the rack. Surround with coals. Place applewood chips in a foil packet (poke holes in it) or in a smoker box. Prep grill. Rub the chicken down with the juice and sprinkle with spices and zest. Place the can of soda in a can chicken roaster. Place the chicken over the cooker. Place on the grill, over the foil bowl.

Cover and cook until full cooked through, adding coals as needed to keep the heat constant. It should take about 1-1/2 hrs.

My thoughts:
Honestly, I have grown a bit tired of chicken. I got burnt out on it while writing my cookbook (lean protein!) and haven't wholly embraced it since. That hasn't stopped me from appreciating it when it is exceptionally well done and this was. It is literally the juiciest bit of chicken I think I have ever made, much less grilled. Smoky and citrus scented. Meltingly tender and, I did I mention? Super, super moist. I am sure the fact that the chicken was from our local poultry farm helped but the soda and rub really sealed in the juices. Yum!

June 01, 2011

Vanilla Bean Jelly Roll

3/4 cup sugar, divided use
2/3 cup flour (I used White Lily)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean, scraped

8 oz jam (I used plum)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a jelly roll pan. Line with parchment paper, grease again. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks together until yellow and creamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar in a steady stream and beat until well mixed. Stir in the vanilla and vanilla bean. Slowly stream in the flour until incorporated.

In another large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and spongy to the touch. Turn the cake over on to a towel. Peel off the parchment paper, and then roll the cake and towel together tightly, starting with the narrow end. Allow to cool. Unroll and spread with jam. Re-roll and slice.

My thoughts:
Let me see that jelly roll! My husband's birthday was this past weekend and he decided he wanted a jelly roll. Thank goodness because I have enough jam and jelly to feed a nation. I had never made a jelly roll before but I had the pan and there is no harm in trying, right? My mom said that her grandmom used to make jelly rolls so I guess I am carrying on the family tradition. If only they had left behind a recipe! I had to wing it. Jelly rolls (swiss rolls) are basically sponge cakes all rolled up around some sort of filling. Jam is the simplest, I think, and perhaps the tastiest. Especially if you are using homemade jam!