Monday, March 31, 2008

Tropical Key Lime Grilled Shrimp with Cucumber Mango Salsa and Coconut Infused Rice

Whew! The name says it all. I am entering this recipe in the Foodie Blog Roll "Royal Foodie Joust" for April. I am just getting in under the wire, but had to wait for a good food shopping road trip to get the ingredients. I really had fun coming up with this recipe! I think my inspiration, other than the fact that I had to use the 3 joust ingredients(something from the sea, lemon or lime and coconut) came from the fact that I am sooo yearning for warmer weather. This meal, at least, gave us a taste of the great weather to come. As always, I would love any and all feedback. Here goes:

Tropical Key Lime Grilled Shrimp with Cucumber Mango Salsa and Coconut Infused Rice

serves 4

1 lb. raw shrimp, cleaned and peeled, tails intact (I used brown 16/25)

1 cup brown jasmine rice
3 cups water
1 lemon wedge
about 1" peeled fresh ginger
2 TB sweetened coconut flakes

4 TB fresh orange juice
zest of 4 key limes (about 2 TB)
juice of 8 key limes (about 4 TB)
2 TB honey
2-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
pinch salt

1 cup diced mango (about 1 large)
3/4 cup diced seedless cucumber, peel if you want
zest of 2 key limes (about 1 TB)
juice of 4 key limes (about 2 TB)
2 TB. finely chopped cilantro
1 TB finely chopped green onion
1/4 cup quartered baby sweet tomatoes
pinch of salt and pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper

I used my rice cooker to prepare the rice. Give the bottom of the insert a quick spray with oil. Then add the rice, which has been rinsed, and the water. Put the lemon, ginger and coconut in a cheesecloth square, tie with kitchen twine and add the the pot.

While the rice cooks, prepare the rest of the dish.

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and then add shrimp, just before skewering. They should only sit in the marinade about 15 minutes or so. Anymore and I think they get mushy. I threaded mine on wooden skewers which had been soaked for at least 30 minutes, beginning with a key lime half and ending with a key lime half. Place on a hot grill until pink and opaque.

Combine all the salsa ingredients together and let them sit while finishing the dish.

This dish, although simple in presentation, has many complex flavors which I feel compliment each other every well (of course I am a bit biased!). The rice picks up just enough sweetness from the coconut infusion to set off the bit of heat in the salsa. We enjoyed this with a light Fume Blanc.

Wish me luck,


Thought I would update..

all you readers on our terrific "foodie Sunday"! We started out by hitting Trader Joe's first. Wow, the people watching and 10cent wine tasting makes it worth the trip (about a 40 minute drive). I was able to pick up some great goat cheese, prosciutto to wrap all the wonderful spring asparagus ( I know, not vegetarian, thus the flexitarianism), a bottle of kosher flake salt (would love comments on what you all have used it for), nice frozen fish, and of course a few bottles of vino! We sampled a nice bottle of Castelli Romani, red Italian table wine, and for $4.99, grabbed a few to go!

So, back to people watching. At the "wine tasting" table, we encountered this very interesting, Abe Lincoln, rockabilly-like older guy. What a trip! I wish I had a camera phone, but I am not that up to date yet. His hair and beard were perfectly dyed black, black square shades, polyester pants on long, stick thin legs and great pointy toed black shoe boots. He was really working the wine guy. We couldn't stop staring. During checkout, we found out that he is quite the regular.

Speaking of check out, thanks to Stephan, our excellent cashier and city steward. He turned us on to this great place where we went for lunch. It is on Coventry Rd. in Cleveland , Tommy's , you must check out the site and go there if you get a chance. Loads of vegan and vegetarian items on the menu. I had the MR3 and Bill had the Mary Lynne, great spinach pies filled with goodness! After checking out a few of the hippiesque stores on the street, we were off to Whole Foods.

Ahhh, Whole Foods. When I enter the produce department I swear I hear the angelic, soprano chorus one hears when encountering nirvana. High prices be damned, what a beautiful, and beautifully displayed selection of antioxidant abundance! Be sure I filled my basket. I would be hard pressed to find hydroponic watercress at the local Meijer's. The nice crack dealer, I mean cheese man, was kind enough to let me sample the $22.99/lb. Fleur Verte Goat Cheese, of which I did take 1/4lb. Creamy, smooth cheese from goats fed a floral diet, including lavender, the taste of which really came out in the finish of the cheese, the chevre is coated in tarragon and pink peppercorns for an herbaceous treatment. It made for a fantastic light dinner. With fresh herbs, cheese and assorted other goodies, we packed it up and headed for home.

I had every intention of putting together the grilled shrimp recipe, which I will hopefully be putting together tonight so that I may enter it in the Royal Food Joust competition. But, I was tired and unmotivated to experiment. Instead, we had a yummy dinner of roasted asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, the fleur verte with crackers, smoked salmon with cucumber and yogurt on crackers, grapes and oranges. Oh, and of course a glass of vino! What a divine Sunday!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cha cha cha cha, changes..

Decided to change the look of the page, heard it was a bit busy. I think this cleaner look suits the type and photos better. I would love feedback, if you could take the time!
Thanks all!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

All apologies........

Okay, remember at the beginning of the beginning I mentioned that I was new to all of the blogging thing. Well, duh, I just finished with the Easter Feast postings, only to realize that they are all backwards. So, scroll down to the scones and continue up from there.

Thanks for reading this, and for your patience! Both are appreciated!

Meyer Lemon Cake with Lavender Cream

Okay, so how many ways can I describe fabulous?! This cake is the bomb, I mean it. And, it is a perfect addition to any spring menu. The balance between the tart lemon curd and creamy, sweet lavender is just divine! This is one that you MUST make right away!

The cake went together without incident. I do not however, own an 8" springform pan. Mine is 8.5" or 9", whatever, so my cake was a not as tall as the one pictured on the site.

I baked the cake a day in advance and kept it wrapped and at room temp. until the next day. At that time I put it in the fridge to chill, thus making it easier to cut the layers.

The lemon curd was also prepared a day ahead. No problems with it either. I would use this curd recipe again, not just for this cake.

Early the next day I steeped the cream and kept it chilled until the cake was served.

The lavender smells so wonderful in the cream. Now I am thinking, why not try another herbed cream, thyme perhaps?

Again, I cannot praise this recipe enough. The few I shared the results with agreed whole heartedly!

Ravioli with Spring Vegetable Puree

The star of the show, the main course. I have to say, this is a great recipe, I would not and did not change a thing. The ravioli I made a day in advance. I chose to run the final product through the food mill. It took quite a bit of elbow grease, but I think the resulting puree was worth the effort.

They were placed on a flour dusted baking pan and then covered with parchment and saran wrap.

Since there were only 2 of us, the rest I have in the freezer. I made the white sauce early in the day, not straining it until I was preparing the meal. At that point I ran it through a seive and heated it on low, while the raviloi cooked. I did need to add some of the pasta water to loosen it up a bit. This recipe from Vegetarian Times is a keeper in my book. Not only is it delicious, but it is low in calories as well.

Note: I don't own a ravioli crimper (yet), so I used a glass to crimp and edges and cut with a sharp knife.

Spinach Salad in a Parmesan Frico Cup

On to the next course, courtesy of the Food Network . I made the Frico Cups a few hours in advance. Lots of trial and error on this one, not as easy as it looked on the show. First, do not use cheese grated with a microplane, bad results. I found it best when the cheese had been chunked and thrown in the food processor. I used about 1/3 cup of cheese so the cups would hold a little more salad. Making these I liken to pancakes, or even crepes (as my friend Vik pointed out). The first batch will usually be sacrificial. You need to obtain that sixth sense for when to pull them out of the oven, and how long to let them sit before releasing from the pan. I used a silpat, which I love, the first batch I let stay too long, and they became crunchy chips the minute they came out of the oven. The second batch (of 2), came out great. the cheese was pale golden and bubbly. I let them sit for maybe 15 seconds or so, just so I could slide the spatula underneath. They came off a bit drapey, and I immediately placed them on an overturned glass pyrex custard cup. When they were both neatly dispatched, I pinched them a bit to give them a more fluid look. After they had set up, I transferred them to paper towels to degrease a bit. The salad I followed to the letter, with the exception of the red onion which I omitted, due to the fact that neither of us are fans of raw onion. I had plenty of dressing left to be used later on this week .

Eggs Stuffed with Capers, Olives, Anchovy, and Radish

We started our Easter meal with these light, creamy eggs as an appetizer. I think I have been making these every year for the past 3 years, at least. Everytime I prepare them I wonder why it is I wait until Easter to serve these. They are a great adult twist on old-fashioned deviled eggs. Very salty, with a bit of heat from the radish. I plated each on a leaf of baby spinach, nestled on a bed of french lentils. These are great because they can be made in advance. The only change I made in the recipe(go to Epicurious), was to subsitute the mayo with more plain yogurt. I don't use mayo anymore and was not about to buy a jar for that small amount. I don't think it changed the taste one bit.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Orange, Honey Ginseng Scones with Vegan "Clotted Cream"

I hope everyone had a lovely, restful Easter holiday. Ours was just that and we were treated to a day of sunshine! I started the day off with the scones pictured above. The inspiration and recipe are from Vegan Yum Yum . Her recipe is Lemon Maple Scones with Vegan Clotted Cream. I like the information she has about American vs British style scones and encourage anyone to read it on her site, and though I am a subscriber to the "better baking with butter" school, ala Ina Garten, I decided to give vegan baking a try. I have to say, the results were deliciously better than I anticipated. My first venture with Earth Balance Margarine and Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese turned out to be the ideal start to the day.

I am not going to reprint the entire recipe here, you can go to her site for that, but will list the changes I made.

I used orange zest and juice instead of the lemon. For the sugar, I used the vanilla baking sugar that I always keep on hand ( regular sugar in a jar with the split vanilla beans from other recipes). In addition, I added one teabag, about 1 tsp. of dry tea to the wet mixture. I used The Republic of Tea, Daily Green Tea with Honey Ginseng. It is a wonderful tea, and when used in baking, the aroma in the kitchen can be quite intoxicating. I cut mine a bit bigger, with a glass as she shows since I don't have any biscuit cutters the size I needed, and finished them off with a light wash of soymilk and a sprinkle of Demerara Cane Sugar. If you have never tried it, I highly reccommend it. Very rich, dark brown like sugar taste.

Mine baked off quite nicely, no need to turn on the broiler as she suggests.

I did make the clotted cream first. I sifted the powdered sugar, added a touch of vanilla extract ( I adore vanilla) and then creamed the rest of the recipes ingredients together with a wooden spoon.

Still warm, I split mine, slathered on the cream and added halved strawberries. The scones were very light, and just a bit sweet with the fragrance of the honey and earthy tea taste.

This is the first segment of the post Easter Feast Report. More to follow.................

Saturday, March 22, 2008

You like me, you really, really like me!

Hey all, I am now a member of the Foodie Blog Roll! Very interesting group of food nuts, like myself. If you are interested, just click on the info on my sidebar. I may get in on the April Joust, not sure, but the mind is clicking with recipe ideas. Just thought I would update. The trip to TJ's and Heinen's went well, all ingredients on the list were successfully obtained. Just in time, more snow fell overnight. So, off to begin the prep work.

Wonder how they will hold the Easter Egg hunt today?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Feast Fix'ins for 2

Okay, so I am off to the "big city" to collect my ingredients for the Easter Feast. I am keeping it vegetarian, no ham, sorry. Can't quite do the vegan thing yet. I may get there someday, who knows? Not hard to go veg though, thanks to the writings of Michael Pollan, but that would be another post (I urge everyone to read at least one of his latest!). But, I digress, here is what is on the menu:

Eggs Stuffed with Capers, Olives, Anchovy, and Radish
Spinach Salad in a Parmesan Frico Cup
Ravioli with Spring Vegetable Puree
Meyer Lemon Cake with Lavender Cream

Just read an absolutely delicious recipe on Vegan Yum Yum for Vegan scones with clotted cream. I may try them for weekend breakfast, but with my own twist.

Can't wait to get shopping, plan to hit Trader Joe's and Heinen's.

Will post results soon,

myspace glitter graphics and comments - myspace is ugly

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I have had a real craving for potstickers, so, I went in search of vegetarian fare. Found this great recipe at . In my version I drained, then crumbled and dried my tofu wrapped in papertowels and then kitchen towels to get it as dry as possible. The ingredient changes used in my version are; 2 small rainbow carrots, oyster, baby bella and shitake mushrooms, daikon radish (there was no jicama to be found), cilantro, and regular oyster sauce.

For about half of the recipe I folded the wonton skins over, forming a triangle, then decided to make them a little more authentic looking. To do this, I first cut the skins in a circle, using a highball glass as a template, then after filling, fold in half, pinch the very center top together, and then pleat each side, being careful to press out the air. Place them on a parchment lined pan and press the bottom a bit to give them a flat surface. Place the tray in the freezer til firm, then bag them up.

Note: keep a papertowel handy to wipe board and edges of potstickers. I ended up with 180 potstickers, so schedule this on an appropriate day. I portioned them off in bags of 8 and they are lined up in the freezer, ready to go. Just heat a tsp of canola or veg oil in a nonstick skillet, lay the frozen potsitckers in the pan and cook til brown, about 2-4 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water and cover. Steam until the water is gone and then serve. I serve with a sauce that is 1 part soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar and 1/4 part sriracha sauce.

I have other recipes that I have been working on and will get them up asap! Any comments are appreciated, especially if you have tried the recipes!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Freezer Foraging!

Lousy weather yesterday led me to the freezer to see what I could come up with. Isn't it fun to see what treasures you can unearth? I came up with a gallon sized bag of beautiful roma tomatoes which had been halved and seeded. I purchased them from a local farmer last summer, most of them I turned into a yummy roasted marinara sauce which I canned. Also, there was a piece of Martha Stewart's ham (via Costco). We really aren't eating much meat, if any, these days, but I hated to toss it. Then, I raided the dry pantry for some beans. Here is what I came up with:

Tomato and White Bean Soup with Ham

3/4 cup dry great northern beans
4 cups pureed tomatoes, canned or fresh
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 carrots, scrubbed and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound finely diced ham
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
balsamic vinegar
parmesan cheese (optional)

Rinse and pick through the beans. Place beans in a saucepan, add very hot water to cover 2" and bring to a rapid boil. Boil 3 minutes then remove from heat and let stand 1 hour.

Since I was using the frozen tomatoes, I simmered them for 1 hour in a large saucier to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavor. (if using canned tomatoes, skip this step) After about an hour or so, run the cooked tomatoes through a food mill. If you don't own one, run out and get one right away! It is a great tool to have in the kitchen.

While the beans soak and tomatoes simmer, time to chop and prep the veggies. First, split the leeks lengthwise, from just past the root end. Holding them upside down, give them a thorough rinse under running water. Set aside to dry, then chop the white and light green parts in about 1/2" strips. The carrots are diced, and the garlic minced (I like to do so with a pinch of sea salt). In a large soup pot, heat about 2 tbls. of good olive oil on medium heat. Add the leeks and carrots and saute at least 10-12 minutes, until the leeks soften.

The ham is added to the pot next, along with the garlic. Cook and stir for about 2-3 minutes. Then, add the pureed tomatoes, beans, bay leaf, and thyme. I tie a string around the thyme, makes it easier to fish it out at the end. Add salt and pepper to taste, bring to a simmer and cook covered for about 1 1/2 hours or until the beans have cooked. After that amount of time, I taste and add 1-2 tbl of balsamic vinegar, again to your liking and more salt or pepper if it needs it. Remove the bay leaf and thyme, ladle into bowls and top with a few shavings of good parmesan cheese. Great for a cold night! Makes about 12 cups.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Kitchen Kitties

Another cold, crazy winter day in Ohio. Yesterday it hit 60, today, 29 with sleeting, rainy stuff. I have a pot of soup going, will blog on that later. While it cooks, thought I would introduce you to my Kitchen Kitties. They are just part of the "homeless" kitties we have throughout the house. Wonder what they think of the cooking that goes on? Hmmmmmmm.....................