Stuffed Calamari

I’m always stuffing something it seems. This is a dish that may be rather exotic to some, as many squirm at the thought of eating Stuffed Squid Tubes or Calamari (Italian name) if you will. They’re also known as cuttlefish. I find calamari to a have a nice ‘delicate’ flavor that is twice as sweet as lobster. These were stuffed and simmered in a sweet tomato sauce.  They are very  tantalizing and tasty. 

The tentacles were fried with a few rings in a dusting of flower seasoned with fresh cracked black pepper and salt–that’s it. I didn’t want the taste of the calamari competing with any other seasonings. Served with snap peas. I must have something green on the plate.

The fried tentacles and calamari rings were very lite, tender, crispy, and tasty.

Slice on the bias to reveal the tasty stuffing

I prefer buying the pre-cleaned calamari. Theres still a little cleaning to do but it’s very minimal, and as you can see, at $8.99, they’re very inexpensive. This package yielded a count of 12.

Thawed and removed for the package

Chopped a small onion and garlic for the tomato sauce. the marinated cherry pepper and shiitake mushrooms will be part of the squid stuffing.

Rinsed them under cool water inside and out, gave a little ‘pat’ dry on paper towels and ready for the next move.

Remove any translucent skin

Next remove that little external flap.

Give the tentacles a gentle pull to remove and set them aside for later use.

For the stuffing I blended 4 cleaned and deveined shrimp and 2 of the whole squid tubes in my small food processor until I had what looked like a squid and shrimp mousse. I added  steamed spinach that I cooked earlier in the day on hand (you can use fresh chopped spinach), bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, the marinated cherry pepper, 1 egg to bind, and gave it a mix.

Addition of the shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms have a wonderful unique flavor and went really well here.

Addition of  some fancy crabmeat, mixed well. Of course you can stuff them as I have here, or use your own creativity and suite your  personal palate.  Now its time to stuff those tubes.

Use your fingers or a small spoon to gently fill each squid tube.

There we are…all stuffed. I saved one to chop into calamari rings and fry.

Secured the opening with toothpicks. We don’t want to lose that stuffing in the sauce.

Sautéed onion and chopped red bell pepper for a few minutes, then added garlic and continued until the garlic was fragrant, then added on can of tomato sauce. You can use marinara sauce, crushed Roma tomato sauce of the like. After the sauce was in the pan, I added sugar–a little at a time to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and as well impart a little sweetness.

While the tomato sauce was simmering, I began to add the stuffed calamari.

Now  cover and simmer for 15  minutes. While the calamari was simmering, I sliced the tube that I set aside into rings, floured (only added salt and pepper) it along with the tentacles and fried till golden in a small pot containing enough canola oil to accommodate them.  The oil was probably around 350. I didn’t take time to use my thermometer. I checked the oil by dropping a pinch of flour in it, and if I get a little sizzle, I know its ready. This was late-night cooking and I didn’t take time to grab the thermometer…just went by ‘feel.’

Spoon some of the sauce into a shallow bowl or plate, place the stuffed tubes in the sauce. I sliced one as mentioned to show the stuffing, and garnished with the fried tentacles and rings.

I’ve heard some say that cooking the squid this way will result in a tough rubbery texture, and if overcooked that can happen. But let me assure you, these were very tender.

Delectable!

Pair with a nice Chardonnay – Beringer Private Reserve 2011 –very good indeed.

I love the taste that the grill imparts. Served here with fresh linquine with minced clams in clam sauce.

Pineapple Fried Rice

My husband brought home a case of 6 very delicious pineapples the other day from the fruit and vegetable market, and for $2.00, he could not pass up that deal. Now his thinking was having pineapples over a  nice bowl of vanilla ice cream.  I on the other hand, had something different in mind. I had been planning on cooking up some fried rice, and these pineapples just sealed the deal.

I really enjoyed the sweetness that the pineapple imparted

With a little sprinkle of red chili flakes to give it that heat that I enjoy

Very easy to make, so lets get started

We’ll start by choosing one of these lovely pineapples. They were nice and ripe. You can tell by the lush looking green tops and the wonderful sweet aroma of pineapple of course

We can’t have fried rice without shrimp, well you can, but with them its soooo much better

Ahhhh, our “volunteer”

4aGive the ‘crown’ a gentle twist and remove. Be careful of those leaves as the points are very sharp

Look at that lovely, juicy flesh! Take a small sharp kitchen knife and run it around the inside edge of the pineapple, then remove the flesh. I cubed some of the pineapple and sat it aside

Scoop out any remaining fruit. Reserve the removed pineapple for later

I used some of the pineapple flesh and juice to marinate the shrimp–marinated for about an hour. There was no acidity to ‘cook’ the shrimp

Sautéed the onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil until translucent, then added the garlic , and stir for a minute or two more

Added the red chili flakes, get those incorporated

Next the cubed pork. The pork had a little bath in pineapple juice as well. Saute until the pork is no longer pink

The shrimp have made their appearance, saute until the shrimp are pink

Removed the pork and shrimp mixture from the pan and sat aside until further notice

Added 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the cleaned pan and gave the cubed pineapple a little sear

That’s the colorization I’m looking for. The sugar from the pineapple made for a nice caramelization

Remove the pineapple from the pan, added the remaining oil to the pan, with moderately high heat added the cooked white rice

Shrimp and pork mixture, caramelized pineapples are mingling very well  with the rice. Mix it all together, remove from the heat

At this point, throw in the pea pods and bean sprouts. The residual heat from the pan is all that’s needed

Added two tsp of fish sauce and Thai basil to the rice mixture and stir well

Fill the pineapple halves with the fried rice mixture, garnish with scallions, chopped cilantro, and more red pepper flakes if desired

At this point it would have been nice to add the sliced red chili peppers. They would have given another nice heat element as well as provided more visual appeal with dots of red. However my trek to the vegetable market earlier proved futile as they had none in stock

Our Pineapple Fried Rice “boat” has sailed

What to drink? A nice Pinot Noir would have paired well with the spiciness of the pork, however,…

…all I had on hand was a nice  Bordeaux

Recipe:

1  ripe pineapple

4 Tbsp oil

3 cloves garlic-chopped

1 medium onion chopped

1-2 teaspoons chopped red chilies or crushed chili flakes

5 oz pork loin, diced

1/2 lb. shrimp

3 cups cooked white rice

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Thai basil (if you can find it)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 scallions – thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Fresh red or green chilies – thinly sliced

A hand full each of bean sprouts and pea pods (generally I cut the very tips off the pods and string them…removing the fine string along each edge.)

Proceed:

Cut the pineapple in half length-wise. Run a knife around the edge of the pineapple and then cut and scoop out the flesh. Cut the pineapple away from the core, cube it, and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large heavy bottom pan  (I didn’t use the wok this time around) over medium high heat. Add  the onion, garlic, and chilies to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the pork; stir-fry, tossing constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring, for another 3 minutes. Remove all the meat from the pan and set aside. Reheat the pan and stir-fry the pineapple pieces for 3 minutes or until heated through and lightly golden; remove from the pan.

Add the remaining oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add the rice and stir-fry for 2 minutes, tossing constantly. Return the pork, shrimp and pineapple mixture to the pan and stir thoroughly. Remove the pan from heat.

Add the basil and fish sauce, bean sprouts, pea pods, and toss well. Fill the pineapple shells with the fried rice. Scatter spring onions, cilantro, and chilies over the top and serve immediately.

 

Crab And Shrimp Stuffed Pompano With Black Rice / Whole Fried Cornmeal Crusted Crab Stuffed Silver Bass

Pompano is a fish that I have been wanting to prepare for some time now. It’s a very beautiful fish. The external texture is very smooth as it has very small scales that are basically imperceptible. I find that this fish is best presented whole as displayed here. It’s quite easy to prepare.

The sweet chili sauce was amazingly tasty. The sweetness had nice balance against the heat of the chilies. Served with black rice, a sauté of spinach, and matchstick beets.

For the crab mixture, I sautéed finely chopped red and green bell pepper, celery, and onion in a few Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, added a 5 ounce can of crabmeat, a few Tbsp of Panko bread crumbs, and just a little Mayo for the right texture. Seasoned with a little salt and fresh cracked black pepper. The shrimp was sautéed in the same pan, but separately from the crabmeat. My intentions were to use lump crabmeat. However that wasn’t what I had on hand. This worked just the same.

The black rice is topped with a small confetti of red and green bell peppers. As for the spinach, I sautéed a Tbsp each of shallots and freshly minced garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil, added the spinach and cooked until just wilted. Garnished with matchsticks of cooked fresh beets.

I began with this beautiful specimen, Washed it under cool running water, made a slit down the underside and thoroughly cleaned and cleared the cavity. Some like to also remove the gills, but I wanted the fish intact, but I cleaned that area out very well. No scaling was necessary. As I mentioned they are so small that they are imperceptible–almost like a scaleless fish to be quite honest.

Cut a criss-cross pattern on both sides of the fish using a sharp knife. This helps in the cooking process. You could at this point flour the fish if you like. I didn’t want that browned flour look. I didn’t want any coating that obscure the finished product.

Time to cook the rice.  Black rice  is an excellent dietary staple. Once called the “forbidden” rice due to its reservation only for the Emperor in ancient China as it was thought to be the finest grain, and therefore, not for the “common” folks.  It has excellent benefits as it contains antioxidants and vitamin E. Simply use equal parts of water and rice. I used one cup of rice, cooked in one cup of wate. Just as you would cook white rice.  Before cooking, rinse it  until the water is clear, or as clear as you can get it. It will take on a deep purplish hue when done.

stuffed some of the crab mixture and a few shrimp into the cavity.

Into one cup of hot canola oil. You can use a wok, but this time around I used my heavy-duty, non-stick skillet. Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side, moving the fish around to ensure the whole fish is crisp and cooked. Ladle the oil on any areas if necessary.

Flipped her over…almost there.

After removal from the pan, I allowed it to rest on paper towels to drain of any excess oil, the onto the platter. Now for that sauce.

Simmering the Sweet and Spicy Sauce. My orignal intentions were to serve the fish with a Sour Pepper & Coriander Sauce, but my taste buds were screaming for something spicy and sweet, and I found this wonderful chili sauce. The recipe called for one Tbsp of Siracha sauce. However, I used one Tbsp of  Chili Garlic Sauce in place of the Siracha. **the recipe for the sauce is posted below.

I think this worked even better than the Siracha

The finished plate with the addition of the rest of the crab mixture and shrimp, garnished with fresh lemons, limes, and scallions.

Added a little dice of fresh jalapeno peppers–just because I love spicy.

Very moist, tender, and flavorful

Crab And Shrimp Stuffed Pompano With Black Rice With A Sweet & Spicy Chili Sauce

Silver Bass – Fresh caught. This is from last summer.

For this one I did have lump crabmeat.

Nothing like fish fresh out of the lake!

Don’t you love it!

Looking forward to summer fishing

Chili Sauce recipe:

3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup Rice vinegar, 1/4 dup water, 1 Tbsp finely minced garlic, 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp Siracha (I used 1 Tbsp  Chili Garlic Sauce instead), 1 Tbsp cornstarch, 1 Tbsp of cold water to dissolve the cornstarch, 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce or 1/2 Tsp salt if you do not have the fish sauce.

- Start with 3/4 cup of sugar in a small sauce pan.
- Add the rice vinegar and water to the sugar and turn the heat to a medium high. Bring the sugar solution to a boil while stirring, until the all the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the finely minced garlic and crushed red pepper.
- For some extra heat and color you can add some siracha or hot sauce to it. I like it to have a little zip to it after the initial sweet flavor. Let the sauce simmer bubble for a few minutes until it thickens slightly and all the      flavors blend in.
- In the meantime, dissolve 1 tablespoon of corn starch in a tablespoon of cold water until there are no lumps in it.
- Turn the heat up to a rapid bubble and pour in the cornstarch slurry in the sauce and stir it well.
- You’ll notice the sauce thicken faster and you can turn the heat down again. Lastly, add 1/2 tbsp of fish sauce for some saltiness or a 1/2 tsp of regular salt and stir it in. Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool down.
- Serve as a dipping sauce, or toss a couple of tablespoons in a stir fry for sweet and spicy dish! Bottled or in an air-tight container this sauce lasts a long time in the fridge.

Rack of Lamb

My family of men have been asking for rack of lamb since the last one. Last time I did a pistachio and pecan crusted rack and that’s been on their mind ever since. It was only a few months ago–September of last year. I decided to grant their wishes. Of course it was my pleasure as always.  Love in the kitchen, love in the kitchen…after all, thats what it’s all about…preparing a nice meal is love expressed on the plate. Thats the way I see it.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love cous cous–the texture, the taste, etc. Pleases my palate

Served with sautéed asparagus and that lovely garlic herb palate pleasing cous cous with a little fresh parsley to garnish

Marinated with a garlic-rosemary paste for 1  & 1/2 hour. Normally I like to marinate over night, but this sufficed

Into the hot pan to sear, seal in all that lamb goodness

Flip, sear. Oh look at that color, and the aroma is amazing

My first thought was to do this rack without the breadcrumbs, but they always add a nice depth of flavor.  Panko breadcrumbs, fresh chopped parsley, orange zest, and a dash of Chicago Steak Seasoning–mix well

No, it’s not just for steaks

Covered the rack with the breadcrumb mixture and placed into the baking dish and into the pre-heated 400 F oven. 25 minutes for medium rare.

Out of the oven. Allowed to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting the individual chops

Ready. My husband and sons were eagerly awaiting this moment. Knife please!

Plated with garlic herb cous cous and asparagus–a delightful meal. The chops were just a tad past medium rare. My cooking time was 30 minutes. Thanks to a busy kitchen I went 5 minutes longer, but I got no complaints

The asparagus was sautéed with shallots and garlic in a little olive oil

Ring the bell, dinner is served. This should keep them at bay for a while. However,  my 16-year-old son Josh was asking for more today.  I’m happy that he so enjoyed those chops

Created a little video compilation on my YouTube channel. I must do more with that channel this year.

http://youtu.be/o8dg1ucy_ug

Shrimp & Lobster Risotto Stuffed Collard Green With Creole Sauce

This recipe was inspired by one that I saw as I was perusing Plate Magazine. I had in mind to make a few stuffed cabbage leaves, but then I happened upon this one using collard green leaves. The recipe was quite intriguing. The recipe used 48 collard green leaves stuffed with gold rice and shrimp, served with a Creole Sauce. 48 leaves is a tad much for a family of four, so I gave this recipe my own personal spin and tailored it to fit my family. I decided to make a risotto instead of the gold rice and added to that a nice mixture of mushrooms, lobster, and shrimp. along with the Creole Sauce as per the original recipe. It turned out fabulous and was very pleasing to the palate. 

Stuffed Collard Green

The sauce was quite tasty and complemented everything wonderfully

I cleaned and deveined the shrimp, removed the lobster tail meat from the shell and seasoned both with a little Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, Old Bay Seasoning, and freshly cracked black pepper and put those aside until needed. I also washed the collard green leaves. I used 7. I began by sautéing about 1/2 cup each of chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery in 3 Tbsp of melted butter until the vegetables began to get tender and with some translucency in the onion. In a separate pot,  I had the chicken stock on gentle heat–just enough to warm it through good, not simmer– 8 cups (16 oz.) of chicken stock.

Next was the addition of 3 Tbsp minced garlic and one bay leaf.  I stirred this as the garlic released its fragrant bouquet. I used my wooden spoon to gently press the bay leaf against the bottom of the pan as I stirred it about, to assist in releasing its essence. When you fully get the aroma from the garlic, its time to move on to the next step.

    Added two cups of Arborio rice.

Gave it a stir to get everything nice and incorporated with one another, stirring until the rice begins to get opaque.

To this went in the first of 8 cups (16 oz.) of chicken stock. You can easily use vegetable stock, chicken broth, or plain water. I find the former two imparts better flavor.  Stirring, let the rice absorb the broth, then add the next cup, continuing in this fashion until all 8 cups have been added.

Chopped mushrooms (7 of them) made their entrance, gave a little stir.

The pre-seasoned shrimp and lobster added.

A gentle stir and allowed to simmer until a nice creamy consistency was reached.

Generally  you want the risotto to be nice and creamy, but I need a slightly firmer texture this time around to hold better when wrapping in the collard green leaves. Salt and pepper to taste at this point.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Ahh, our lovely cleaned collard greens.

Dropped them in a pot of boiling water for several seconds. Just want to blanch them, not cook them. Remove and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

And this is what we have. I was trying to be gentle so as not to tear them…I almost succeeded .

Placed the collard green in my baking dish coated with a little spray of olive oil, added a generous amount of the risotto mixture and roll, leaving the seam side down.

Continued until all seven leaves were filled. At this point the Creole  sauce can be added on top and baked with the stuffed leaves. However, I chose to serve the sauce separately.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve atop the Creole sauce.

Shrimp & Lobster Risotto Stuffed Collard Green With Creole Sauce

The recipe that inspired this dish can be found in the link below. I may try it per the recipe one day, but I can tell you this–my household was greatly pleased with the outcome.

http://www.plateonline.com/MembersOnly/Recipes/RecipeDetails.aspx?RecipeId=16459


Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with a Garlic Port Wine Reduction Sauce and Rosemary Skewered Shrimp

The weather has been so lovely lately. Not too hot with that drenching high humidity,  and not too cool. Yes, just right. But I must mention, no matter what the weather, I’m thankful for each day. Of course my grill beckons me to come outside and throw something on it. Well, actually my grill never rests. Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, rain, sleet, snow, or shine, I’ll lite the grill up any time.  I had several lamb loin chops marinading over-night. Generally I’ll broil them on high heat, but it was all about the grill today. The garden is still giving its yield of yellow summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, etc.  I took some of  the cooking outside and This is how the day went. It was a surf-n-turf kind of day

Breaded zucchini was the vegetable for the day along with the grilled corn

The port wine reduction sauce was a perfecto for this meal

As mentioned above…a little “marination” action.  Freshly minced garlic, fresh chopped rosemary, olive oil to coat, salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Seasoned the shrimp with pepper, Old Bay, fresh chopped parsley, and a little extra virgin olive oil

Skewered eight of the shrimp with a few fresh sprigs of rosemary. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love the smell of rosemary

I also had a few chicken thighs on hand, so I deboned  and seasoned them.  With  two  of them, I removed the skin and  placed goat cheese, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves on the inside

The other two, I left the skin on. Ready to roll up

Rolled them all up, wrapped a piece of bacon around each, and secured with toothpicks

The chimney starter is getting those coals ready! I prefer using the chimney starter as opposed to lighter fluid. I really don’t like the smell of lighter fluid

And onto the grill with our Surf-N-Turf meal.  That rosemary smells even better now

Yes, everything is looking and smelling great! I think my neighbors are zeroing in on the smoke

The shrimp are coming along ‘shrimpingly.’ I can’t even describe the sweet aroma of the rosemary at this point

All of the shrimp make their exit from the grill

The shrimp are off of the grill and anxiously awaiting…I could stop right now and be thoroughly happy just eating the shrimp. However, it’s time to get those lamb chops off of the grill as well

Cooked to medium rare

Port to make the  Garlic Port Wine Reduction.  I used 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 cup of the port, 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 12 cloves of garlic–whole and peeled,  salt & pepper to taste. Added everything to a pan, brought it  to a boil, then covered, lowered the flame and simmered for 15 minutes. Afterwards, with the lid removed, just keep cooking until it reduces to a lovely syrupy consistency

A little of that port went right nicely in my  petite glass. We’ll save the rest for another cooking (perhaps?)adventure

This was not a complicated meal at all…satisfying and tasty.  The stuffed chicken thighs were quite tender, juicy, and tasty. I love goat cheese, and along with the basil and sun-dried tomatoes–the flavors worked very well  together and complemented each other. Had I not turned my back I would have had a lovely photo of them, but that’s what happens when I have hungry people in the kitchen before I can get my camera ready. But that’s quite alright. When they’re happy, I’m happy, and I hope this post  has made you happy in some way   :-)

Pistachio & Pecan Crusted Rack of Lamb

One of the meats that I enjoy cooking most is lamb, especially that choice cut–rack of lamb. The series of rib chops are oh so tender.  Cooking a rack is always something special. Initially my intentions were to do a crown roast of lamb with a pecan stuffing in the center. However, I also had some lamb loin chops marinating, and thus just the one rack would suffice. I didn’t get any complaints from my men-folk. I’ll save the crown roast for later this year.

The aroma was awesome! Let it rest for 10 to 12 minutes before cutting

Served with Garlic Pearl Cous Cous and Sauteed Herb Carrots

Ingredients:

1 rack of lamb

2 Tbsp canola oil

1/4 cup pistachio nuts

1/4 cup pecan nuts, toasted, finely chopped or processed

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs, finely chopped or processed

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves,  finely chopped

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp orange zest

Proceed:

I began by preheating the oven to 400 F,  trimmed the rack of some of the fat and membrane, then seasoned it  with a little salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and a pinch or two of Weber Chicago Steak Seasoning.  Gave the rack  a little sear in a moderately hot  skillet with a canola oil. Afterwards, I placed the rack in a baking dish sprayed with Pam,  and  roasted for about 25 minutes.  Ideally lamb should be cooked to medium rare. An instant read thermometer registering a temperature of 130 – 140 is what we’re looking for.

Our lovely rack of lamb. Time to trim the fat a bit

To ensure that the bones don’t burn while roasting, cover them with a little foil. Seared each side for about 2 to 3 minutes

Place  the pistachio and pecan nuts in a food processor to give them a nice chopped blend

Add in the chopped parsley and orange zest

Added the Panko bread crumbs to the chopped nut mixture

Why yes, yes I do have some (time to replenish)

Coat the rack with the Dijon mustard

Add the nut and breadcrumb mixture, cover completely

Gently, but firmly press the nut and breadcrumb mixture on the rack of lamb

Ready for the preheated oven

Place in a baking dish sprayed with Pam ,  and roast for about 25 minutes. Let it rest, remove the foil from the bones, then cut into individual chops. Should slice like butter

And there we have it. The Garlic Pearled Cous Cous was cooked per package instructions. As for the carrots, I simply scrubbed them, and sauteed in a pan with a little olive oil to coat,  added a pinch each of freshly chopped parsley, oregano, and thyme, covered and cooked for about 15 minutes or until fork tender.

Pistachio & Pecan Crusted Rack of Lamb

Zucchini Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms And Grilled Lamb Kofta

Those zucchini from my “Z” box were piling up a tad, so I decided to make one of my most favorite summer dishes–Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms–yet again. However, I was torn between that and Zucchini and Summer Yellow Squash Casserole. Well, there’s always a way to work it on out. I figured, why not make the zucchini casserole, then prepare the zucchini blossoms, and  stuff the zucchini blossoms with more zucchini from the zucchini and squash casserole! Sounded like a great idea to me. Then  I’ll serve the zucchini stuffed zucchini blossoms over a nice bed of  zucchini ribbons . Add a nice mellow sweet pepper sauce, and garnish with zucchini confetti. Did I say zucchini enough for you?  I thought so. Believe me, it was a delightful dish.

Zucchini blossoms stuffed with zucchini casserole. Go on, click the photo…see it larger

Served over ribbons of zucchini, garnished with yellow summer squash and zucchini confetti with sweet yellow pepper sauce–A tasty  balance of delicate flavors. For the sauce, I simply blended some (jarred) roasted sweet peppers with a little oil, cream, salt and pepper to a desired consistency, with a touch of powdered sugar

A summer favorite by far

Grilled Lamb Kofta with a creamy mint sauce over cous cous, to round the meal out.

For the Casserole:

4 pounds of yellow summer squash and zucchini mix

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Tbsp chopped red onion

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 cloves of minced garlic

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 to 1 cup Panko or regular bread crumbs (I used Panko)

3 eggs

1/2 of grated Parmesan cheese–this is optional. I did not use it this time.

1 tsp fresh thyme

Slicing the cleaned and trimmed zucchini, chopping onions and garlic

I heated the olive oil and sauteed the onions until tender, then added the garlic and continued to cook until it released its fragrance. Next went in the zucchini and squash–continue to cook, mixing gently, until the squash is tender

The  cooked squash was added to a buttered baking  9 x 13 baking dish, then sprinkle over with the fresh thyme. The eggs, whipping cream, and sour cream was whisked together then poured over the squash and carefully mixed.

Topped with a few extra slices of yellow squash and zucchini that I had left over. This went into a 350 F preheated oven and baked for 30 minutes, topped with bread crumbs and baked until they were lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes more.  Now into that oven!

Out of the oven, garnished with a  fresh lemon thyme sprig

Deliciousness

Stuffed the casserole into the squash blossoms, then floured, dipped into an egg wash, rolled in Panko bread crumbs and fried until golder

I had also made falafel, and if you know me, then you know I absolutely love falafel. So, I stuffed a few more blossoms with falafel and cooked the same as the others. Delicious!!!

Threw the lamb on the grill

Ahhh, the smell of lamb is filling the air

Falafel Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Did I leave out the salad. Well how about a simple saute of zucchini and summer yellow squash in a little olive oil with red onions

Zucchini & Squash Stuffed Zucchini on a bed of zucchini ribbons, garnished with zucchini and squash confetti

Yes, zucchini was definitely highlighted in this dish. Zucchini Love, what more can I say?

Chickpea & Edamame Stuffed Squash Blossoms With Edamame Puree; Grilled Cornish Game Hens

Well it’s that time of the year again–time to stuff  and savor the delicate sweetness of those squash blossoms. From the day we planted the seeds in the raised bed, I’ve been anticipating stuffing those lovely undimmed yellow flowers. I knew exactly what I wanted to stuff them with. I had a garbanzo bean (chickpea) and edamame salad on hand and my thinking was to puree it and stuff it into the blossoms.  I guess it was kind of like squash blossoms stuffed with hummus. Now you may think eating flowers is not for you, but I guarantee you—once you’ve tasted these, you will devour them with happy delight, and you won’t stop at just one.

Served with an edamame puree.

The taste was amazing

Unbattered

That squash box was screaming; “Stuff those blossoms!”

Now isn’t that a beautiful sight to behold?

Time to snip those stems and clean them. I generally give the a little wash under gently running water after I ever so gently remove the stamen from the center of the blossom

My chickpea salad. It contains chickpeas of course, edamame beans, chopped red onion, green bell pepper, tomatoes, celery, extra virgin olive oil, and mushrooms (just a few as I didn’t want the earthiness of the musrooms to dominate). Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Gave the salad a puree, mixed in cream cheese and adjusted the salt and pepper

Stuffed the blossoms with the puree, battered then fried till golden. The batter for the blossoms was just a simple batter made with one cup of flour, one cup of milk, and one egg. Alternatively you could roll them in flour,  then dip into beaten eggs, and coat with  bread crumbs for a liter blossom

Served with a puree of edamame beans.  The edamame puree can be made by preparing one package of edamame beans as usual–by steaming or microwaving them for about 4 minutes then allowed to cool a bit. Add them to the food processor along with the juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup of water, and drizzle in extra virgin olive oil until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Or leave the batter off…just as good! Well, I must tell you that the ever so delicate flavor of squash blossoms is amazing! Betcha can’t eat just one. Actually a plate of these is all you need for a filling meal. However, I was doing some grilling that evening…

Seasoned up a few Rock Cornish Game hens with spices and a mixture of fresh herbs–sage, rosemary, and thyme

And onto the grill with them

Oh they are looking good. Nothing like night-time grilling with the smoke of something good on the grill wafting thru the air

Very succulent, juicy, and tender

Now the squash blossoms didn’t really need any company and held their own to “squash” the awaiting appetites of my men-folk, but with two growing boys with healthy appetites, this sealed the deal

Now grab a plate, head out to the patio and enjoy this meal while watching the hummingbird

http://youtu.be/cE_Uq0NueVE

Fried Green Tomatoes With Purple Basil Mayo; Shrimp & Garlic-Scallion Polenta

With the temperature in the mid 90’s today, and a high heat index that made it feel  like 99 degrees F, it was like a steam bath outside. Originally I was thinking of cooking Cornish game hens or Salisbury steak, but with this heat and humidity, I opted for something liter, but yet filling. I had a few green tomatoes, so of course fried green tomatoes was on the menu. I picked up a pound or so of shrimp while out with Mr. Hubbs and  son No. 2 earlier today. I figured grilled shrimp, fried green tomatoes with the polenta to pull it all together. A quick, delicious, hot weather meal indeed.

The polenta was cooked per instructions. 8 Tbsp polenta added to 2 cups of boiling water. The water had 1 Tbsp of minced fresh garlic. After I added the polenta, I also added two chopped scallions, so I guess we can call this garlic-scallion polenta. Of course salt and pepper to taste. I used white pepper

The purple basil mayo went quite well with the fried green tomatoes

Green tomatoes washed and ready to be sliced, seasoned shrimp (seasoned with fresh cracked black pepper, Old Bay, extra virgin olive oil, and Creole seasoning), minced garlic for the polenta–a few of the ingredients

Onto the grill they go!

After a few minutes on the grill, the shrimp are nicely cooked

Floured the sliced tomatoes

A quick dip into the egg and milk wash

Into the bread crumbs next. Usually I use Panko bread crumbs, but I was out, so I made them fresh

Into the pan with oil heated over a moderate heat

Nice and golden with the right amount of crispness

Quick and simple. I didn’t spend much time in the kitchen on this hot and humid day  :-)  That purple mayo basil also went well with the shrimp

Garnished with a little fresh parsley

Fried green tomatoes with purple basil mayo along with shrimp and garlic-scallion polenta. My lite dinner for today

Purple and green basil in my herb planter

Also in the planter is rosemary, parsley, thyme, lemon thyme, and cilantro

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