Appetizer


This tasty appetizer was modified from Cooking Light’s version.  The cakes?  Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, delicious throughout.  The salsa?  Sweet and crunchy and salty and spicy and delectable.  One of my favorite foods ever, this salsa-cake combo would work well with lump crab meat or chicken, too, and if they fall apart too easily in a skillet, just bake or broil them.  They may not yield a super-crispy crust, but they’ll still taste fantastic.

Shrimp Cakes with Corn and Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

Cakes:

  • 1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, reduced-fat
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (at least)
  • 2-4 teaspoons hot sauce (Cholula is great)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups panko, divided
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Salsa:

  • 1 cup corn, grilled and cut off the cob (or frozen and thawed, if necessary)
  • 2 avocados, only slightly ripe and peeled and diced (if too ripe, they won’t hold their pretty cube shape)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos, finely chopped (depending on heat preference)
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 lime, juiced (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

  1. To prepare cakes, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Sauté bell pepper about 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté for about a minute.
  4. Place mixture in a large bowl and set aside.
  5. Place shrimp in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped.
  6. Add shrimp to the pepper mixture.
  7. Add green onions through egg to the shrimp.  Stir well.
  8. Stir in cilantro and 1/4 cup panko.
  9. Divide shrimp mixture into about 10 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
  10. Dredge both sides of patties in remaining panko.
  11. Cover and freeze for at least an hour (they’ll fall apart too easily if this time is reduced, and they can be frozen for a month or two).
  12. To prepare salsa, combine corn and remaining ingredients; stir gently and set aside.
  13. Heat pan over medium-high heat and coat with canola oil.
  14. Add half of the cakes to pan; cook about 4 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.
  15. Remove cakes from pan; cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining cakes.
  16. Serve salsa with shrimp cakes.

Yields 10 cakes

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Corn, Green Onion, & Jalapeno Prep

Corn, Green Onion, & Jalapeno* Prep

Scallops with Corn Relish

Scallops with Corn Relish

We first made this in late August with farmers market corn.  The relish, which could be used with tacos, chicken, even pork, is best with fresh corn, but it’s doable with high quality frozen extra sweet niblets (or, if you can find some, out-of-season corn on the cob).  Simply char the thawed corn in a skillet over medium-high heat, or use Trader Joe’s Fire-Roasted Corn, a tasty alternative.  We’re addicted to scallops, so we’ll eat them with with any kind of corn–especially when we’re longing for summer on chilly days like today…

Ingredients

  • 2 green onions, trimmed
  • 3 ears of corn, in husks (but with some of the outer layers removed)
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced lengthwise
  • 1  tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound large sea scallops
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Roast onions, corn, and jalapeño for 15 minutes, or until onions and jalapeño are slightly (or even mostly, if desired) charred, turning/rotating at least once, on a baking sheet.
  3. Let corn rest on the sheet for about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Husk the corn and prepare a grill (a grill pan on medium high heat works just fine).
  5. Grill the corn just until it’s charred in some spots–about 3-5 minutes, turning often.
  6. Cut the corn off the cob.  Using a knife and large bowl is my preferred method, but electric knives or corn strippers do the trick, too.  Put corn in a medium bowl.
  7. Finely chop the green onions and jalapeños.  Add to the corn.
  8. Carefully toss corn mixture with tomato through pepper.  Add additional salt and pepper as necessary.  Set aside.
  9. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  10. Pat scallops with paper towels to be sure they are as dry as possible.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  11. Sear until nicely browned (about 2 minutes per side, turning ONLY once).
  12. Serve scallops atop the corn relish.

Yields about 4 entrée servings; about double if served as a first course

*While using all of these jalapeños would have been wonderful, one, with pith and seeds, was enough–even for our spicy palates.

Want to make something super-simple?  Want it to be super-healthy?  Make Tuscan Kale Chips.  Go now.  Run, don’t walk.  They’re calling your name.  (Just be sure to check a mirror after consuming as your teeth will be a bit green–the only downfall to this snack.  I promise.)

Kale: Pre-Cooked

Deliciousness in a Glass

Bon Appétit published this recipe about a year ago, and when I received the issue, we made them.  They’re salty and crispy and seem so very, very bad for you, like greasy potato chips.  We love them so much.  We made two batches of the chips, and they were nearly all gone just an hour later.  They’re too irresistible to not devour.

Still not convinced enough to make them?  Whole Food’s CEO says that their employees “obsess” over kale as it has “more nutrients per calorie than any other food.”  I dare anyone to not like this treat.

Ingredients

  • Tuscan kale leaves, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half, center ribs and stems removed (one bunch is about all that will fit in our oven at one time)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (less than a tablespoon should do the trick)
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Spray kale with oil (or toss in a large bowl with the oil).
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange leaves in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 32 minutes (longer for crispier leaves).
  5. Transfer leaves to rack to cool.
  6. Enjoy.  Really, enjoy.

Yields 2 servings (if you’re at all like us)

Chili-Glazed Tofu with Soba Noodles*

Tofu with Peanut Hoisin Sauce

Shiitake mushrooms got us into this mess, I think.  We had some firm tofu, broccoli, carrots, and a few pantry staples on hand, so these recipes came together easily.  It started with miso soup (but just the generic add-a-tablespoon-or-two-to-water variety–which is still decent in my book) with tofu and shiitakes.  The soup led us to pan fried tofu in sesame oil with a hoisin-peanut sauce.  (Sure, no shiitakes, at least it had a tofu/Asian theme.)  Finally, we assembled a broccoli, shiitake, carrot, soba noodle, chili-glazed tofu dish that was so spicy we each downed about a gallon on water with the meal. Delicious.

For the Appetizer (modified from epi’s version):

Tofu Triangles

  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 package extrafirm tofu, drained well and cut into triangles
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tablespoon toasted white and/or black sesame seeds

The Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped

Preparation

  1. For the tofu, In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Salt and pepper the tofu.  Add the triangles to the skillet and cook until browned, just a few minutes per side.  Set aside.
  3. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.
  4. For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Serve tofu with the peanut-hoisin sauce.

For the Entree:

Chili-Glazed Tofu (slightly modified from CL’s version)

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-3 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1/2 package extrafirm tofu, drained well and cut lengthwise about 6 pieces
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soba Noodles

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 1 3-4 oz. package of shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned, and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, grated, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, divided
  • 1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 package soba noodles, cooked

Preparation

  1. For the tofu, combine sugar through Sriracha in a small bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Sprinkle tofu with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  4. Add tofu to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.
  5. Add sauce mixture to pan; cook a little less than aminute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  6. For the noodles, cook the mushrooms and broccoli in the same fashion, but separately:
  7. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or a wok over medium-high heat.
  8. Add mushrooms/broccoli.
  9. Cook, stirring occasionally, a few minutes, just until tender.
  10. Add garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper, and cook until fragrant. (Repeat for mushrooms/shiitakes.)
  11. Add both vegetables, cooked soba noodles, carrots, and broth to the pan.
  12. Cook until heated.
  13. Serve noodles topped with tofu; drizzle remaining glaze over noodles.

Yields 4 servings for the triangles, 2 (maybe 3) for the noodles

*Yep.  Still looking/saving up for an SLR camera.  We’ll have one soon (I keep telling myself).

French fries are, well, French fries.  I’ve made them in the oven dozens of times–sometimes with sauteed garlic and butter, with parsley, dipped in chipotle ketchup, with cheese, with anything, really.  Sometimes I parboil them for a few minutes, I’ve actually even fried them in a vat of oil, but they’re still delicious baked at a high heat for a long time with much less mess, fewer pans, and a whole lot less fat.  They’re decent with or without ketchup or butter or cheese, but garlic is a must in my book.

Parmesan French Fries

Parmesan French Fries

Ingredients

  • Baking potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch thick strips (about one medium-sized potato per person is usually enough)
  • Cooking spray
  • Extra virgin olive oil (just barely enough to ever so lightly coat each potato strip–about 1-2 teaspoons per 2 potatoes)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced, per potato (even more for garlic fans)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan, freshly shredded (the block is much better than then pre-shredded stuff, but both will work just fine)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cover a large cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Gently toss potatoes, some oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well coated.  Add only enough oil to lightly cover the potatoes.
  4. Spread out on a cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for about 50 minutes, turning once or twice, until nicely browned (or even black–they’re delicious burnt, too).
  6. Top with cheese.  Let the fries cool a little while the cheese melts, and then serve.

Yields about 1 serving per potato

We love onion rings (of course).  These are strangely made with Pellegrino.  I’m sure club soda would be just fine, but I’m addicted to Pellegrino and buy it by the case.  While we only used one onion for the two of us (the original Food & Wine recipe calls for two), we couldn’t finish them all and didn’t eat for the remainder of the day.  These suckers are incredibly filling and not quite as greasy as we expected.  Just be sure to use some paper towels to blot the delicious fat before serving.

I can’t wait to fry up some zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, leeks, cauliflower, lobster, crème brûlée, burgers…

Onion Ring Stack

Onion Ring Stack

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for sprinkling in the end)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups Pellegrino (or club soda), chilled
  • Vegetable oil, enough for frying
  • 1 large onion, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rings (Vidalia, Spanish, yellow, etc.)

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, baking powder and kosher salt.
  2. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the Pellegrino until the batter is smooth.
  3. Add more Pellegrino, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is the consistency of thin pancake batter.
  4. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil (to about 380° if you have a thermometer).
  6. Dip 6-8 or so onion rings in the batter, letting the excess drip back into the bowl.
  7. Fry the onion rings (about 6-8 at a time) in the hot oil over high heat, turning occasionally, until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes.
  8. Transfer the onion rings to a paper towel–lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  9. Repeat with the remaining onion rings and batter and serve hot or warm.

Yields 4 servings