Friday, June 16, 2017

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Peach Salsa

We've been eating lighter now that it's hot.  Yesterday I had a hankering for Shrimp Tacos with a zesty Peach Salsa, so I picked up what I needed just before dinner.  Let's say this was a nod to Louisiana.

The Peach idea came from years ago, when a guest chef at the local farmer's market found things at the booths and cooked fish and served it with a simple fresh peach salsa.  I thought it was the coolest idea.  We are talking 15 years ago, so though there is no way I could duplicate what he did I made my own quick Salsa.

Rinse Shrimp, peel devein, pat dry, and add 5 to each skewer, this just makes for easy grilling.  Drizzle with Olive Oil and season with Blackening Seasoning on both sides, I like Paul Prudhomme's the best.

For the Salsa, Dice 2 Ripe Peaches.  Mince a few strips of Jalepeno - use them to your liking depending on how much heat you want.  Add 1 tsp Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice.  Season with 2 tsp minced Cilantro and if you want, 2 tsp Minced Red Onion.  Drizzle with 1 TBL Olive Oil and stir.

Shred lettuce, I used Red Cabbage and Spinach, but you can use micro greens, napa cabbage, sprouts of any sort, really whatever you want.

Preheat Grill til hot and grill shrimp, turning once.  Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet so they are pliable.

We have taco tenders and I recommend them. Assemble tacos by placing shredded greens in the bottom, add 3 shrimp and top with Salsa.  We sampled Gluten Free Tortillas but I didn't care for the texture at all.  I would stick with flour tortilla's or if Gluten Free is needed, I would rather make my own with gluten free flour.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"The" Cowboy Steak

If you like grilling and chilling with a group this is the steak for you!!!  Last fall I was looking at meat at Sam's and saw these wonderful freshly cut steaks labeled Cowboy Steak.  Even when I was leaving the store, the attendant asked me if there were any left because he had his heart set on bringing one home for dinner. We compared notes on cooking methods because they are not only huge but thick as well.  I have since cooked them a few times and each time they were delicious.

This is a huge steak on account of having the entire rib-bone but the presentaion is awesome!  One steak sliced can feed 4 adults.  It's so large that I made the marinade on a sheet pan, added the steak, then flipped it a few times over a 1 hour timeframe.

Marinate the Cowboy Steak in whatever you like but I normally use Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, Fresh Garlic, Fresh Parsley, Freshly ground Salt and Pepper.  Because of  the vinegar, don't marinate it for more than an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Preheat the grill.  Grill the steak in order to get cross grill marks about 2 minutes X 2 for each side.  Place on a clean sheet pan and finish it in the oven for 20-25 minutes depending on thickness and doneness you are aiming for.  Let it rest for 5 minutes, then slice in 1/4" slices.

For cross grill marks, I like to place the meat diagonally on the grill (ie 1:30 and 7:30), after 2 minutes, flip over keeping the same diagonal.  Then flip over again AND rotate to the opposite diagonal (ie 10:30 and 4:30) then flip over 1 last time keeping that same diagonal.  If you practice using the same flipping method when you grill, you will always know where you are in the process and get perfect results.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I grew my own potatoes

This January we moved to NC from Lousiana.  (And no I don't miss the rain, but thanks for asking.)  Our neighborhood has a community garden with around 55 boxes in a beautiful location and a nice walk from my house.  The boxes are rented out by the year.    I signed up before we were even packed to move!

After getting my assigned location, I went to a local nursery to pick out varieties of things that would grow here.  I saw "Seed Potatoes".  They were little new potatoes in a netted bag.  I thought what the heck, so I planted them right away, around mid-February, I believe it was.  It took a few weeks for them to sprout because you bury them 4" deep.  After about 3 weeks, I saw green sprouts coming out of the ground.  And the plants grew nicely and in particular very quickly after rain.  Finally, they flowered in early May and  I waited an additional 2 weeks before digging in the dirt to see what I got.

By this point, a few potatoes were crowning.  It was like Easter!!  It was the coolest thing ever!  I was with my sister and we laughed so hard as I dug down returning with a potato in my hand.  She and I split the first ones I picked and this was the last of them.  I think in all, I got about 10-12 pounds of potatoes for the investment of $4.95.  Best thing ever!

Oh and the red onion came from our local farmer's market and the rosemary from my herb pot.  Toss in olive oil, season with herbs and S&P.  Roast at 375 for a little more than an hour for crispy results.  Devour!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Click on Photos for More Clear View

I'm not certain why my blog post photos are blurry.  They are in focus on my i-pad as well as after I download them.  When I add them to my blog, they are fuzzy, except when I click on them - in that case they look focused.  If you want to get a good idea of what these foods actually look like, click on the photo for an enlarged focused gander.  Happy cooking and eating.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pasta Night - for Everyone!

Our club offers a pasta night once a week.  It's a really cool concept.  Two times now I have done my own Pasta Night at home ~ once on account of having leftover Rigatoni and last night intentionally using a really good Italian Gluten Free Penne.  

In the even years, my family holds a week long family get-together at Thanksgiving with about 28-30 of us all eating meals together.  We change up some of the dinners from year to year.  Based on the the head count as it builds each day prior to Thanksgiving Day, we decide which dinners are for a smaller group vs the full group. 

This meal is cool because it's cooked to order and the selections are chosen by the diner which works well when trying to accommodate various dietary restrictions.  I have been trying to work this out to serve it for a large group.  Having a few cooks and multiple pans will make it possible for a large group.  I'm also thinking the kids eat first, then adults afterward.

It's all in the prep, then it goes together quickly and with a big group working together, that part is fun.  The more ingredients you have, the more combinations you can offer. 

For last night, for three of us, this is what I served.  I already had the Marinara made, so that saved a step.  I have a vegetable plot in our community garden and had some Broccoli and a small Red Cabbage that I picked about an hour before prepping.  I also picked some Thia Basil from the community garden and I had some Fresh Parsley in my herb pots.  I just bought Sugar Snap Peas and a Yellow Squash.  I also had 2 links of cooked Italian Sausage from the night before that I cut into 1/2" slices.  I also had a locally grown Onion that I bought last Sat at our local farmers market.  So you can see where this is going with all of these fresh ingredients.  

We are trying out a gluten free diet so I precooked and cooled a very good Italian Gluten Free Penne made by a company called Schar.  I made Afredo Sauce and had that near by.  I quickly steamed the sugar snap peas and the broccoli each for about two minutes and placed them in separate bowls.  I thinly sliced the onion and the cabbage and placed them in separate bowls.  I recently bought a new Mandoline and made waffle shaped slices with the Summer Squash.  You can add whatever you want though, sauteed peppers, roasted eggplant, sliced zuchinni, sliced (or quartered) mushrooms, cooked bonelss chicken breast, raw shrimp, capers, pressed garlic, etc.  The larger the group, the larger the offering.

I have a 12" All-Clad skillet that is perfect for this meal.  Heat the pan over medium heat and add a TBL of Olive Oil.  Add the ingredients that the diner requests.  Sauté these together for a few minutes adding Salt and Pepper to taste.  Add the pasta and toss for about 1 minute.  Add Alfredo and toss for about 30 seconds til combined and hot.  If the sauce thickens too quickly, have water ready and add a splash or two as needed.  

For plating, in a pasta plate, add marinara to the bottom and swirl.  Add the freshly cooked pasta to the plate and top with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese and garnish with Italian Herbs and S&P if needed.  Eat at once with a salad and hot crusty bread.  

Wash the pan and utensils and begin again.  

Other sauces that can be added instead of just Alfredo and Marinara are Pesto, Tepenade, a Roasted Red Pepper topping, and even a Marsala or Picatta.  So with the combinations, the dishes are endless.  

For a big group, set out the pasta plates and the ingredients buffet style.  Allow each diner the chance to add to the bowl what they would like.  Then they can bring it to the cook who can make the dish to order.  NOTE: If using raw Shrimp or any raw meat, the plate has to be washed before serving.  I would have raw shrimp near the cook who can add it directly to the pan and all other meats I would precook.

Another option is have everyone gather in the kitchen, allow the cooks choice on the combinations, enjoy them one by one as they are done by sharing straight out of the pan onto small plates.  

Have fun and photograph all the selections as the dishes are finished.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Shrimp and Grits

Last year was the first time I had Shrimp and Grits - if you can believe that!  I lived near New Orleans for 26 years.  The way it happened was, we were in the city for a Saints game and were surprised no one was at the entrance.  We inquired as to where everyone was only to learn that the game got moved from Noon to 3:30pm.  Since we lived 45 minutes away, we decided to go to Mr. B's for brunch and to look at artwork in the French Quarter.  There was a jazz combo playing and everyone seemed to be enjoying typical New Orleans Brunch fare.  We saw (and smelled) the Shrimp and Grits.  As the servers, ladened with dishes lined up their arms bustled by, that delicious New Orleans Barbecue scent lingered around us.  With that, we both ordered it!  The following week, I cooked the same dish for dinner and even a few times since then.  Now in NC where fortunately the shrimp is very good, I made Shrimp and Grits for dinner last night.  My son, who used to eat just three shrimp and not finish them, piled his plate high and ate every remaining shrimp.   I just had the five I photographed!  Oh well, next time I'll have to cook more.

Peal and devein enough Shrimp for those you are serving.  I had 1 1/2 pounds of Shrimp - after it was cleaned.   Place single layer on a paper towel lined plate in order to dry the exterior so it will brown.

You will need to find a Barbecue Shrimp Seasoning (I only use LaDon's) prior to attempting this dish.  To a small pot, add a few TBL of the Barbecue seasoning to 2 TBL butter, 1 Tbl Olive Oil, 1 TBL Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and Juice of 1 Lemon (zest the lemon first for a garnish).  Heat until melted.  Swirl to combine.

Cook enough Grits counting on 1/2 cup cooked grits per serving.  The way Mr. B's cooks their grits is they use milk.  Milk can be very salty so I use a ratio of 1/2 Cup Milk and 1 1/2 Cups water.  Cover and heat over medium high heat til it boils.  With fork in hand, slowly add the 1/2 Cup Grits stirring all the while until combined.  Add a 1 tsp Salt and 1 Tbl Butter.  Turn to low and cover and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir again, turn off heat, and cover to allow to finish.  Stir one last time to make sure they are cooked.

Heat an empty skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 TBL Olive Oil and 1 TBL Butter.  Add Shrimp and cook quickly tossing all the while to ensure all the shrimp are cooked.  This only takes a matter of minutes.  Top with Lemon Zest and Fresh Parsley.

For plating, to a pasta plate, add the barbecue seasoning, top with grits and top with Shrimp.  Enjoy with crusty warm bread and a salad and maybe even a jazz tune.