August 30, 2018

Grilled Scallops with Cherry Tomatoes and Zucchini





Ingredients:
1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 shishito peppers
2 cups cherry tomatoes (I used Sun Gold)
1 small onion, sliced into quarter moon slices
1 lb large scallops, patted dry
Florida seasoning or lemon pepper
salt

Directions:

Lightly oil a grill pan and heat. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer. Sprinkle with seasoning and grill until the peppers blister and the zucchini is fully cooked. Remove to a bowl and cover.  Add the scallops on the grill, sprinkle with seasoning and cook 1-2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Serve immediately.


My thoughts:
This is one of those meals that I made from pulling together random stuff I had in the house yet turned out really great. My mother had given me some yellow cherry tomatoes she grew, we had zucchini and I have had these scallops in the freezer forever. They defrosted quickly and grilled up really well! The juices from the vegetables made a light sauce and the whole meal was really flavorful yet made in under 20 minutes. I have really missed grilling this year so I have rediscovered my grill pan (I have this one and it cleans up and grills like a dream) and have been very pleased with the results. It caramelized the ingredients quickly and easily. I still miss grilling outside (go away, rain, humidity and high heat!) but it does help satisfy my cravings a bit.

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August 27, 2018

Cranberry-Ginger Lime Rickey





Ingredients:
2 1/4 cup Cape Cod Select’s premium frozen cranberries
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 inch knob fresh ginger (peeled)
1 1/2 cup sugar


to serve:

sparkling water
ice
lime slices


Directions:
Place the cranberries, lime juice, ginger and sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the juices from the cranberries are fully released and the mixture thickens, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour the mixture through a wire mesh strainer, into a heat-safe jar, measuring cup or bowl. Use the back of a spoon to extract all liquid into the jar. Discard solids. Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.

Stir 2-3 tablespoons of syrup into each 10-oz glass of sparkling water. Add ice. Garnish with lime slices or wedges.

Refrigerate leftovers up to one week.

Yield: about 1 cup syrup



My thoughts:
Cape Cod Select contacted me asking if I would like to try their new line of premium frozen cranberries and create a new recipe using them. I was happy to! I love cranberries and have often thought it was such a shame (and odd) that they are not sold frozen year round since cranberries freeze so well and have uses beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas. I've always wanted to make some summery cranberry recipes but by late August, my stash has normally run out. Cape Cod Select has stepped in to solve this problem.

I think cranberries' bright, tart flavor really goes well in summer dishes. Since it has been incredibly hot, rainy and humid this season, I thought I would make something cool and refreshing. This is a version of the old-fashioned soda fountain favorite, a lime rickey. Basically a sparkling limeade, lime rickeys are served as-is or can be spiked for an adult beverage. Common variations include New York's cherry-lime and New England's raspberry-lime rickeys.

For this rickey, I added cranberries and fresh ginger to the syrup to make for an effervescent drink that is as refreshing as it is pretty. It's almost like a light, fruity ginger ale. I think it would be fun for a lunch or casual party, who wouldn't appreciate homemade soda? No one I'd want to know!

Cape Cod Select is a woman-owned business that has been run by the Rhodes family for four generations--over 75 years! Their facilities are primarily powered by solar energy which is admirable. You can order their cranberries online here or find them in a local grocery. Find out where to buy them locally here. If you are a cranberry lover, check these out, I've never seen such large, perfect-looking cranberries in my life. And remember you can use frozen cranberries the exact same way you use fresh, without defrosting.

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August 26, 2018

Teriyaki Shrimp Pasta Salad with Blistered Shishito Peppers and Pineapple


This post is intended for an audience of adults age 21 and older. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company All opinions are mine alone. #CookingWithCoke #CollectiveBias


Attention food lovers! A fun contest to enter! Text CHEF to 26739 for a chance to cook, eat and drink with award-winning chef and television personality Aarón Sánchez in the Coca-Cola Kitchen at the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One*

 
For this recipe, I took my inspiration from a ShopRite recipe for Grilled Teriyaki Shrimp Skewers and designed a recipe to pair well with Coca-Cola.


Ingredients:
1 lb Wholesome Pantry Raw large shrimp, thawed
1 bottle ShopRite Trading Company Teriyaki Marinade
15 oz canned pineapple chunks in juice, drained
3 shishito peppers
1 cup peeled and cubed cucumber
1/4 red onion, diced
1 1/2 cup dried macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
freshly ground black pepper


Directions: Toss shrimp and pineapple chunks with teriyaki marinade in a resealable bag and place in the refrigerator. Marinade for 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, and preheat a grill pan to medium-high and once hot, add a small amount of canola oil. Grill the shishito peppers for 5 minutes, turning once, until blistered. Allow to cool until they are able to be safely handled, dice. Set aside.


Carefully place shrimp and pineapple on grill and grill 1-2 minutes per side, or until the shrimp are opaque. Remove from grill and place in a large bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Add the peppers to the shrimp and pineapple. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to evenly distribute all ingredients. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Serves: 4

Protip: If the cucumber is very seedy, remove the seeds by scraping it with a spoon prior to dicing.

My thoughts:
It's rained pretty much every day this summer and has been brutally hot so I took the recipe indoors and made it literally a little cooler by turning it into a pasta salad. I busted out my grill pan (why don't I use this more often??) to grill the teriyaki marinated shrimp and pineapple. I didn't bother with skewers since I was turning it into a salad and instead carefully placed each item in a single layer and turned them using tongs. If you are more comfortable using skewers and then removing the shrimp and pineapple, feel free! I decided to make it into a pasta salad because the shrimp, pineapple, and teriyaki reminded me of Hawaii which then, in turn, reminded me of the Hawaiian-style Mac Salad I make. Both are a great combination of sweet and savory and a real crowd pleaser.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am Coca-Cola drinker so much so that I would rather not have soda at all rather than have anything other than Coca-Cola. I had a sadly soda-free birthday trip to the Eastern Shore recently due to this stance. My husband and I try to stick to one caffeinated beverage a day so I packed a Coca-Cola and this salad in my husband's lunch today for an afternoon pick-me-up and it was a hit. We both actually liked the salad best after it had been refrigerated overnight and the not too sweet flavor of Coca-Cola complemented it well.


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August 24, 2018

Escarole Soup with Zucchini and Italian Sausage



Ingredients:

3/4 lb hot Italian sausage (casings removed)
2 small zucchini, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head escarole, chopped
2 quarts chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Pecorino Romano to garnish (optional)


Directions:

Roll the sausage into 1/4 inch balls. In a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot, saute the sausage until browned on all sides and nearly fully cooked. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Drain off some of the grease, leaving about 1-2 tablespoons in the pot. Saute the zucchini, onion, and garlic until the onion is translucent and the zucchini is nearly fully cooked, about 5-10 minutes. Add the escarole and saute until it starts to wilt. Add the remaining ingredient, including the sausage balls and simmer for 20 minutes or until the escarole is soft and the sausage is 100% cooked through. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano and serve.

My thoughts:
We have had such a hot, humid and incredibly rainy summer so when it finally was below 85 for more than a few hours, it felt downright chilly. I went to a new grocery store that just opened up and among other things, they had escarole. Why escarole can be hard to find, I don't know. We have a pretty large Italian population and things like fennel and every kind of Italian deli meat and cheese known to (wo)man are pretty easy to find but escarole, not so much. This store had not only escarole but curly endive which is very nearly the same thing. Fancy greens!

Anyway! I was excited to see it but then brought it home and had nothing to do with it. It's one of my favorite greens in a soup because it doesn't become slimy (ew) and maintains a bit of it's texture lots of its flavor and sturdiness. Since we are nearing on the end of August and it was only about 80 out, I decided to go for it and make something that seems fall-ish (although fall does not begin for another month!) and a bit hardy. Since zucchini (along with escarole) is in season now, I added that to the soup to bulk it up a bit. Leafy soups always leave me a bit hungry even when they have chunks of yummy locally made sausage in it. I really loved how the soup came out, it was filling but did have a light flavor about it--perfect as we slip into cooler days.

Weird Tip: My husband has trouble heating homemade soup up at work for lunch (it never seems to come out correctly) so he used the broth from a bowl of soup to make rice and then topped it with the remaining solid ingredients to make a slightly brothy dish that reheats nicely in the microwave.

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August 20, 2018

Zucchini-Potato Latkes







Ingredients:
4 cups finely grated Russet potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
2 small-medium zucchini, finely grated
1 small onion, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil

Directions:

In a large cast iron skillet or another heavy bottomed pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil.

Place the potato into a metal sieve over a large bowl. Press out any liquid. Pour out the liquid and place the potatoes in the bowl on top of the remaining starch. Use the same sieve to drain the zucchini and onion over the sink. Add to the potato. Stir in spices, and the matzo meal. Form into flat patties. If they will not hold their shape, stir in additional matzo meal until they do. Fry in hot oil, flipping halfway through, until just golden.





Drain on paper towel lined plates.



Yield: about 10 latkes, depending on size.

Note: Make sure you use the finer grater on a box grater, not the large, coarse side for best results.


My thoughts:
I had made zucchini fritters a couple of weeks ago and my husband expressed disappointment they were not more like latkes (they were batter-based) so I thought I'd remedy that and make something closer to a straight-up latke. I'm glad I did! They were super crispy, had a nice subtle zucchini flavor and made us feel like we were eating something very slightly better for us than straight up fried potatoes. I was out of sour cream so I served them with onion dip(!) and it was so good, I think I'm going to do that on purpose come Hanukkah. 

To round out the "Jewish food in the summer" theme, I served with some Alaskan sockeye salmon with "everything" seasoning on it. 

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August 16, 2018

Cocoanuts Bars





Ingredients

1 3/4 cups (honey or cinnamon*) graham cracker crumbs (about 8 graham crackers' worth)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan. Set aside.

Melt butter in a small pan. Remove from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press, using the back of a spoon or the bottom of a measuring cup into the bottom of the buttered pan taking care to reach all corners.

Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips, then the butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, coconut, and peanut over the graham cracker layer. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top, and spread with the back of a spoon or spatula until the mixture is evenly coated.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden brown and the bars look "set".

Allow to cool on a wire rack completely before slicing. This seems to take forever but resist the urge to cut them when they are even remotely still warm. You can refrigerate them before slicing if you are a clean lines fanatic. Store in the refrigerator or on a cool counter in an air-tight container. Freeze leftovers up to 6 months if desired.

*I like honey best but either work.


My thoughts:
Bars like these have a lot of different names. 7-Layer Bars (for those, the butter is normally melted in the baking pan while preheating and then sprinkled with the graham cracker crumbs to form the first and second layers), Magic Bars (I guess because it is a bunch of layered stuff that "magically" makes a bar cookie?) and oddly, Hello Dolly Bars after the Broadway play. I also heard "dream bars" from a reader commenting on my Instagram story when I was making them, upon googling they look like perhaps a precursor to the 7-layer bar because they require you to actually make a shortbread cookie vs. using graham crackers which also sounds really good. The recipes are all pretty similar although can vary in what kind of chips to use and when to put in the sweetened condensed milk. A lot of recipes call for it on the graham cracker layer then everything else is plopped on top but I opted to put it on last with the hope it would help the coconut brown while still holding everything together and "protecting" the chips from direct heat.

I did not grow up eating these, I think they are much more of a midwest thing, the parties I went to all had black bottoms, drop cookies and brownies (and birthday cake if applicable) not bar cookies but I've read about them so many times I felt like I've had them. I can see why they are popular, they are very simple and can be made with ingredients that most people probably have on hand or at the very least pick up easily at any store. They would be so quick to make for a last minute occasion or weeknight treat.

I took my inspiration from the classic back of the can recipe but really made it my own--a bit more graham cracker crumbs so the pan is easier to coat, a mix of butterscotch and peanut butter chips, using bittersweet chocolate chips instead of milk, honey roasted peanuts instead of walnuts and I think the most genius switch up: using unsweetened shredded coconut instead of sweetened flaked coconut. The bars are so sweet thanks to all the chips and the sweetened condensed milk, the coconut really doesn't need to be sweetened too! I'm happy too that unsweetened coconut is so much easier to find now (Harris Teater actually had a store brand version!), I remember back when I started Coconut & Lime I had to track it down at health food stores and South Asian groceries. Coconut is naturally sweet and a lot of recipes that call for sweetened are so sweet already, they don't really need extra sugar.

The result is a bar that is a solid nod to the classic but that is much more appealing to a more "adult" tastes than the super sweet ooey-gooey original. Personally, I prefer desserts that aren't described as "tooth-achingly sweet"; a descriptor I saw more than once in conjunction to the original bars but to each there own! It might be fun to take a batch of these and a batch of the originals to a party and do a taste test. These are still sweet of course but with a deeper, darker flavor than the usual.


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August 14, 2018

Oysters au Gratin






Ingredients:
4 pieces bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, small dice
1 lb "baby" spinach
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
hot sauce
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pint shucked oysters, drained
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used cheese bread)
1/2 cup shredded gouda


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 1-quart baking dish. Set aside. 

In a large skillet, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease (if needed). Saute the onion until translucent. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. Cook over low heat until most the liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat. Stir in the bacon bits, spices, hot sauce, and oysters. Pour into the prepared baking dish. 





Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese in alternating handfuls. Bake for 20 minutes or until the oysters are just cooked and the top is browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
This recipe is a bit of an odd one. I don't know if oysters au gratin is a thing (if it's not, it should be!) but I had picked up two pints of oysters a while back. One pint I made into oyster po'boys for the second time in about two months and I didn't have any idea what to do with the second jar. Finally, I had to make them or risk spoilage so I came up with this dish. It ended up being really good! Who knew? I served it as a side but it definitely could be a main dish, it is rather filling.

It isn't as rich as it could be as I didn't add anything but spinach, a small amount of bacon and oysters in the filling--no dairy at all, and topped it with a modest amount of cheese. The result was a fresh tasty, briny dish that seemed really festive despite me whipping it up on a random weeknight on a whim.

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August 08, 2018

Summer Vegetable Pearl Couscous with Andouille



Ingredients:

1 cup pearl couscous
1 lb turkey or regular andouille sausage, sliced into coins
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 Serrano pepper, minced
2 ears' worth of corn kernels
2 zucchini, cubed
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning
pinch celery seed
pinch cayenne

fried eggs, optional

Directions:
Bring 1 1/4 cup of water to a boil. Add couscous, cover and simmer 8 minutes or until covered.

Meanwhile, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet. Saute the sausage until browned. Add the onion and pepper and saute until the onion is softened. Add remaining vegetables and spices. Saute until the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat. Stir in the couscous. Serve.


Yield: 4 servings.
My thoughts:
It has been a trying few weeks here lately. Not the least which is that our porch roof leaked so we had to take care of that which was an unexpected and unwelcome surprise!

The weather has be awful, alternately very rainy or very very humid and sunny and nothing in-between. The local produce has really suffered. We've barely had one good peach, nectarine, tomato or plum. This is the only time of the year we eat any of those things of course so this is extra disappointing! I wait all year for them! The corn has been okay though and these zucchini are from my mother's garden and were quite good so I made this sort of couscous meets hash thing. Originally I didn't put an egg on it but I realized that my camera lens had fogged up when I took the initial picture so I took the picture this morning when I had some leftovers for breakfast. I think the egg added something though! The dish is very simple but flavorful thanks to the in-season produce, Creole seasoning, the Serrano pepper (mine were very spicy but feel free to add more if your's are not) and of course the andouille, one of my favorite kinds of sausage. I used turkey andouille so it was a little lighter but regular would probably be even better! It's a great meal for a hot summer night.

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