Butternut Squash Soup with Crab and Warm Apples

Ahhh…Autumn, such a lovely time of the year. Truly a time to enjoy the beautiful display of colour as the leaves display their beautiful hidden array of hues. There’s nothing like taking a trip up north to observe this wonderful display. However, a nice walk through the neighborhood, park , or just sitting in the back yard will suffice as well.  My boys enjoy trips to the apple orchards where we gather delicious apples, drink warm cider and  delight with those sweet treats — doughnuts!   Then too, the weather is perfect for the Fall wardrobe of colorful sweaters, and fabrics of suede and leather to add a stylish look as you relish  nice days spent outside in the crisp Fall air. However, there are a bevy of Fall soups to enjoy  and today is such a day. Winter squash crops are abundant with a variety of versatile squash that are a natural partner to a number of vegetables and meats, and are conducive to great seasonings. Butternut Squash Soup is on the menu.

Topped with steamed snow crab; garnished with fresh thyme, chives, and perfectly pretty red zinnia pedals. I found that the flavor of the crab was such a beautiful complement to the sweetness of the squash

With a crisp of prosciutto and cubes of warm apples that were sautéed in butter.

Time to choose our specimen, right next to a bevy of acorn squash. When  choosing squash, look for those that are firm, hard, and without blemishes. Winter squash are harvested in the Fall when they are mature and their skins have hardened.  If  you grow them yourself, and want to store them for future use, be sure to leave part of the stems attached or they won’t keep very well. I think I may add a few varieties to my garden next year

Cutting the squash in half lengthwise reveals a brilliant orangy-yellowy flesh

Spooning out the seeds

Rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and fresh cracked black pepper, with a little butter added…then into a 400 F oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until it’s fork tender. Alternatively you could peel the squash with a good vegetable peeler and dice the squash. However, I find that roasting is much easier and less labor intensive

Our squash is out of the oven!

Scooping out that flavorful, tantalizing flesh

All done, let’s continue shall we…

Next, I sautéed one medium onion for about 5 minutes until softened, then added fresh thyme and one bay leaf, salt and pepper, and continued to cook a few minutes longer to allow the herb flavors to diffuse into the onion

Adding the squash to the onions and herbs

Two Tbsp honey

Next, the chicken stock (or  low sodium broth if you like). 2 – 6 cups, depending upon the amount of squash you use. Add enough to get the right texture. For the one squash that I used, I added about 1 and 1/2 cup

Now just let it simmer for about 20 minutes to let the flavors of the onion, thyme, and bay leaf meld together. Afterwards remove the thyme and bay leaf and transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor (if you have an immersion blender, that’s even better), and blend  until it is thick, creamy, and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a sauce pan and mix in 2 Tbsp of heavy cream. At this point give it a taste and add salt and pepper to taste and a little sugar to get that desired sweetness. The sweetness will be there, but you may want to accent it with a little sugar Now ladle into your favorite serving bowls and enjoy!

Bon appétit – Profitez de votre soupe

With a few dollops of sour cream and pink zinnia pedals, which are quite edible. The warm apples were a very nice addition

A swirl of crème fraîche  and red zinnia pedals

Wine pairing…

A nice crisp white such as Pinot Grigio goes very well with our soup

Fall weather…

Sartorially speaking, the day called for suede slacks and suede & leather footware…

Oeufs en Cocotte aux Herbes

Eggs En Cocotte with Herbs is a lovely way to display and  of course eat eggs. It’s a simple recipe when displayed that looks complicated. This traditional French dish is very elegant, pleasing to the eyes and for a certainty pleasing to the palate.  I was thinking omelet today, however I do those often, but my husband, I’m sure, wouldn’t have complained if I prepared an overstuffed seafood omelet of some sort. Then again… my ramekins were sitting there screaming: Use us! Use us!     :-)    It was a nice break from breakfast as usual during the week, and Hubby was well pleased.

Side note –How about those Tigers! 2014 American League Central Division champions. Forth straight – Go Tigers!!  *Avid sports girl here.*

Breakfast is served with a little hot tea to round it out

Garnished with fresh basil, thyme, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Served with delicious Home Fries with fresh chives

I began by sautéing finely chopped shallots and garlic in a  little olive oil, then added chopped swiss chard and cooked until it wilted, added salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Poured in the egg whites beaten with a little cream, along with chopped fresh chives, parsley, and thyme.  However, my mind was in omelet mode and I whipped the whites a tad longer than I should have–thus the bubbles

Carefully added in the yolks. placed the ramekins in a water bath and into a 350 oven. Baked for about 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the whites set. Keep checking them

Sprinkled on a little cheddar cheese and red pepper flakes

As I mentioned–The Tigers are once again Division Champs, clinching the title last evening with a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the final game of the regular season. What a great day to be at Comerica Park. Unfortunately we weren’t at that game, but we were there Friday, September 26

Great night at the park with Hubby and the boys

Take me out to the ball game…

My 16-year-old is the ever-present artist. He managed to get some sketching in as well as enjoy the game

Be well and have a wonderful day

 Always treat others as you wish to be treated

Ruby Dee

Scallion Beggars Purse with Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Sauce

If you know me, then you know I have a great love for all things French. I especially love those little French pancakes known as crêpes. I make them quite often and this morning I had a taste for a simple crêpe filled with a nice blend of mascarpone and cream cheeses with some type of berry sauce. However I had some rotisserie chicken in the fridge and thought that the chicken, along with a few other ingredients would make a nice savory crêpe. I had been planning on making scallion pancakes with a seafood entre, so I utilized that  idea  for my savory crêpes.  This was an “off the head” recipe…no set amount and measurement of ingredients. I just “went with it” as they say. I was very much pleased with the outcome. 

A nice long chive worked well  to cinch the crêpe

The scallions imparted a very lovely flavor to those delicate crêpes. Garnished with scallions, thyme, and squash blossoms

I sautéed one small shallot, 2 small red onions – fresh from one my veggie boxes – until translucent and fragrant. I added the shredded breast of rotisserie chicken to that and continued to saute. Next went in several sliced mushrooms. Continued to cook for a few minutes until they were cooked down a tad, and added cubes of zucchini, a chiffonade of swiss chard, grated ginger,  and mixed in some cream cheese. Finally, seasoned with fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste. As mentioned this was not a “set” recipe. I just kind of went along by feel and what I wanted to taste in the final product. The ginger really gave it the flavor I wanted. It was just enough for the flavor palate I was looking for.

One of the roasted peppers for the red pepper sauce. Recipe at the bottom

Placed a small amount of the filling in the center of the crêpe, carefully bunched it together and cinched with a nice long chive. The recipe for the  crêpes is the one I use most often and can be found on this site by doing a search for crêpes. However for this recipe I added several minced scallions to the crêpe batter and blended in the food processor.

Red Pepper Sauce – Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil, 4 large red bell peppers (roasted), 1 large onion, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1/2 cup heavy cream, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 1 or 2 tbsp sugar for sweetness

Proceed

 I coated the peppers with a little olive oil, wrapped them in foil and baked at 350 for about 35 minutes. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers, onion, garlic, and saute  for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer gently over low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer 2/3 of the mixture to a food processor and puree. Then return the puree to the pan with the remaining 1/3 of the mixture. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper, and simmer over very low heat for about 15 minutes Stir in the parsley and simmer 5 minutes more.

Bon appétit et ont une merveilleuse journée!

Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Proscuitto Wrapped Shrimp

I must say that one of my favorite cuts of beef to cook is flat iron steak. Similar to flank steak in that it cooks fairly fast and to perfection of your desired doneness. I find it to be a  tender cut of beef, especially when marinated. The chimichurri sauce is  a nice bright saporous addition. On the menu today — Surf & Turf. I picked up some great prosciutto from Gratiot Central Market as well as a few pounds of shrimp. I had an entirely different use planned for the prosciutto, but  thought what better way to utilize it than to wrap the shrimp with the prosciutto. It added the perfect balance of saltiness.

Served with rice pilaf and roasted brussels sprouts

 Generally when I do steaks, I’ll also do a saute of mushrooms. This is balsamic mushrooms and onions

Margherita Prosciutto has such a nice flavor that imparts just the right amount of saltiness in my estimation to just about any dish it’s used in.  A wonderful Italian salt-cured ham indeed. I had it sliced paper-thin. Most often prosciutto is served uncooked, but when cooked the flavor is nicely enhanced

Cleaning up the flat iron steaks of silver skin, the tough connective tissue, as well as any excess fat, then seasoned with Himalayan pink salt and freshly ground black pepper

The grill was heated over moderately high heat with a few TBsp of oil,  fresh thyme and garlic. Cooked for approximately 5 to 6  minutes then…

…flipped and cooked for about another 6 minutes for medium rare. Cook a little longer if you desire your steaks medium. My husband prefers medium–I prefer medium rare. So these were cooked more towards medium doneness. I aim to please  :-)

0aIn the meantime, for the chimmichurri sauce, I did a chop of fresh parsley, cilantro, oregano, mint, shallots and garlic

Placed it in the food processor and minced

Added a little salt to taste, red wine vinegar, olive oil,  red pepper flakes and mixed well

That wonderful prosciutto was wrapped around shrimp that were cleaned and deveined. The shrimp had been marinated in white wine, garlic,  fresh minced ginger, and fresh cracked black pepper for about 1/2 hour. No salt needed as the prosciutto would take care of that

4aSautéed in a little olive oil for a few minutes per side

And of course when the shrimp take on a nice pink color, we know they are done

Rested the steak for about 10  minutes to allow those wonderful juices to “re-gather” themselves together. Sliced the steak on the bias and added the chimichurri sauce and a few chopped scallions

Plated

I think the next time I wrap shrimp in prosciutto, I’ll stuff them first with perhaps a  crawfish mixture. Just a thought in the making.

Flat Iron Steak, Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp with Chimichurri Sauce,  Balsamic Mushrooms and Onions with Rice Pilaf

22Wine pairing was a nice Antica Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 vintage

Below is a short video below of a flat iron steak I cooked several months ago, served with a red wine reduction, topped with fried onions and green pepper corns, served with a mash of celery root stuffed in a portobello mushroom cap. Photo above.

Crêpes with Nopales – Cactus Pear Compote

It is only so long I can go without making crêpes, and most often that crave is for something sweet rather than savory. I do have a bevy of savory crêpe recipes in my arsenal. However, “sweetness” seems to always win out when I make them. Earlier today, while  at the fruit and vegetable market (one of my regular favorite spots) I picked up a few cactus pears–prickly pears, if you will–and immediately I figured a nice compote would work well with these with some classic French, lovely crêpes. Initially I thought of mixing them with apple when composing the compote but dismissed that idea as I wanted the flavor of the pear to take center stage.  The crêpe recipe that I use is a classic Julia Child recipe, posted below.

Garnished with fresh lemon thyme, a sprinkle of cinnamon on the left, and a few crumbles of feta on the right. I think I can eat feta on just about anything. I love the tartness that it imparted as opposed to the sweetness of the cactus pear compote. The star anise added a nice complement as regards esthetic garnish. However, it was steeped in the sauce when comprising the compote to add its unique flavor

The crêpe was very lite, delicate and flavorful

Served

Recipe components along with a roja pelona cactus pear – time to make the crêpes. Crêpe Recipe: 1 cup flour (I used all-purpose flour although the recipe called for instant-blending flour), scooped and leveled, 2/3 cup each milk and cold water, 3 large eggs, 1/4 tsp salt, 6 Tbsp clarified butter or melted butter with the foamy milk fats spooned off.

Measure the flour into a mixing bowl, then whisk in by dribbles the milk and water to make a nice smooth blend. At this point if you really want to ensure a perfectly smooth batter, pour it through a fairly fine-meshed sieve to remove any lumps.  I also added 2 Tbsp sugar. For savory crêpe creations,  I leave out the sugar. Whisk in the eggs and salt

Add 3 Tbsp of the melted clarified butter

Whisk to blend smoothly. If using all-purpose flour, let it rest 1 hour or more in the refrigerator. If instant-blending flour was used, it should rest 10 minutes.

 Heat the crêpe pan until drops of water dance about, then brush lightly with melted butter.  Spoon 1/4 cup into the pan at a time, tilt in all directions to attain a nice thin circle. The batter should cover the pan with a light coating. After about 30 seconds or so, gently lift the edge with a spatula. The bottom should be lightly browned. Flip using your spatula or fingers as I do at times. Careful there! Cook another 15 to 20 seconds, maybe 30. Transfer to an awaiting plate, and repeat the process 1/4 cup at a time until the batter is used up.

My crêpe stack is building. If you don’t use them right away, they can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag up to 2 days or in the freezer for several weeks. I never do that, as they are so very delectable. No they don’t last very long in my household.

Prickly pear cactus fruit, also known as tunas, are native to Mexico, grows wild just about everywhere. There are hundreds of varieties with vast flavor profiles,  from brisk and tart to creamy-sweet. The variety I used is the roja pelona as already mentioned.  This variety is devoid of thorns that some other varieties have.

After peeling — Chopping the cactus pear. It has a very nice taste reminiscent of that of kiwi. As you can see, the flesh of this fruit is juicy and has a brilliant, beautiful deep red color. Almost “Ruby” red  :-)

Our prickly pear was combined in a pan with wine–a nice Riesling– star anise 1 Tbsp butter, and 1 Tbsp sugar or to taste until you get the desired sweetness. I simmered this for about 6 minutes. Star anise has a very prominent licorice-like flavor that some people do not care for, so leave it out if you wish

Added 1 Tbsp of orange marmalade, some lemon zest,  and simmered 6 minutes more until the pear was basically falling apart

The seeds of  all tunas are edible, but I preferred to strain them out as I wanted a smooth consistency

Beautiful color, beautiful aroma, beautiful flavor!

Also among the garnish was a little fennel frond. Fennel has a licorice taste as well and I thought it went nicely with the star anise

Delicious, I’m ready to make more!

As you can see, this wonderful fruit requires diligent care when harvesting. I would suggest using long tongs should you ever have the pleasure of doing so.  Although this variety has no thorns…you’ve got to work through some to get to the fruit…ouch!

Tunas or prickly pear cactus fruit. “Opuntia”  Opuntia is a genus in the cactus family, Cactaceae. The most common culinary species is the Indian fig opuntia. Most culinary uses of the term “prickly pear” refer to this species. That little tidbit is courtesy of Wikipedia

 

Beef Stroganoff – Бефстроганов Befstróganov

This is a classic Russian dish  that I do at least once or twice a year.  A deliciously flavorful dish of beef cooked to perfect tenderness, with a very lovely  creamy mushroom “gravy” sauce.

Stroganoff simply means sautéed strips or cubes  of beef and mushrooms in a sour cream sauce served with noodles. Preferably  the meat of choice is a nice tenderloin filet of beef. However, if tenderloin is beyond the budget, try making it with thin slices of flank steak cut diagonally across the grain. If you freeze the steak for about an hour–just enough to firm it up, thin slicing will be much easier. Other good cuts of meat for this dish are sirloin or porterhouse steak. A simple tasty dish.

Typically, as mentioned,  the creamy meat mixture is served over noodles, but goes great with rice as well.

Topped with fried onions, that were dusted with flour, fried in a small pot (a little deep fry), then sprinkled with a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt

Garnished with fresh thyme, parsley, and chives. I also had a side of fresh beets

Served over hot buttered noodles

Beginnings.  Seasoning the beef before refrigerating.  Note: I didn’t used the green peppercorns or the cream of mushroom soup. That was used in another recipe that I was preparing at the time

Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef tenderloin, sirloin, porterhouse or flank steak  (with any fat and/gristle removed)  cut into thin strips or cubes

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

6 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 Tbsp flour

1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1 onion, sliced

1 cup beef stock – heat before adding

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tsp prepared mustard

Proceed:

I seasoned the cut beef with salt, fresh cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, covered and refrigerated overnight. You can do this for a couple of hours, but I find overnight  adds more enhancement of flavor. Allow the meat to attain room temperature however, before cooking.

Melt 3 Tbsp of butter(or the oil–I used oil) in a heavy skillet. Add the onion and cook until translucent, then remove and set aside. Turn the heat to medium high, and sear the beef, turning to brown on all sides. You may have to do this in batches.  Remove the beef and set aside with the onions. Add the remaining 3 Tbsp of oil to the skillet, and stir in the mushrooms. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Add the flour and whisk until blended.  Add the hot stock and whisk until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Stir in the mustard and sour cream. Season with salt, pepper, and the nutmeg . Now add the beef and onion to this, reduce the  heat and allow to simmer –stirring occasionally– until the meat is very tender.

Garnish with herbs and serve over hot buttered noodles or rice.

Paired with a very nice Shiraz

Crab Stuffed Shrimp, Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms and Forbidden Rice

With summer going swimmingly and the garden full of yellow summer squash and zucchini blossoms, I can’t resist picking those little beauties whenever I venture into the garden.  The delicate, sumptuous flavor of the flowers are an excellent accent to whatever you choose to stuff them with.  I picked up some colossal shrimp while on one of my regular treks to Gratiot Central Market in downtown Detroit.  I enjoy the “hustle & bustle” of this busy place that offers a wide variety of quality meats, seafood, and other food products. Thus,  todays menu is stuffed shrimp and squash blossoms.

The stuffed shrimp and blossoms were served with forbidden rice (black rice) and ribbons of summer yellow squash that were gently and quickly sautéed in a little extra virgin olive oil. The grilled mango added a great flavor of sweetness to the crab mixture.  Grilling fruit really enhances its natural sweetness.

The forbidden rice was cooked per package instructions. Give it a good rinse (1 cup), and heat till boiling in 2 cups of water. I also added about 1 tsp of olive oil. Reduce the heat and cook for approximately 30 minutes until the water has boiled out, remove from the heat and just let it rest

My husband was very pleased to enjoy this meal, and surprised that just one of the shrimp filled him to satisfaction. You only need one of those colossal shrimps that cooked to perfection I might add. I aim to please and he was quite well pleased

Those shrimp are a handful!

Prep work for the crab stuffing included finely chopped shallot, yellow onion, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, celery, chopped prosciutto, and garlic.  I began by sauteing the bell pepper, onion, jalapeno pepper, and celery for a few minutes–added the shallot and garlic and cooked until fragrant, then added in chopped grilled mango.  Next added two 6 oz. cans of crabmeat. I let that cook for about 10 minutes. Afterwards I allowed the crab mixture to cool, then added about 1/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs and one beaten egg, fresh cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt. It was “stuffin” time!

Used a small teaspoon to place the crab stuffing into the butterflied shrimp. Gave them a gentle pat to firmly pack it in.

The stuffed shrimp were placed in a baking dish sprayed with cooking oil

I had a few more pieces of lovely prosciutto left, so I decided to wrap one of the stuffed morsels with it. I love the delicate flavor and the intrinsic saltiness that the prosciutto possess. Delectable! Adds just the right amount of saltiness. These went into a 350 ( F) oven and baked until the shrimp were nice and pink

All done. The shrimp cooked perfectly…happiness

Stuffing the squash blossoms with the crab mixture. I love flowers, I love cooking…what can I say about cooking and eating the flowers? How great is that? I grabbed the blossoms before they closed–have to get them in the morning or very early afternoon. Don’t forget to snip the stamen out and give them a gentle cleanse.

Saute in a little olive oil. No batter this time. Wrapped one in my last piece of prosciutto

Crab Stuffed Shrimp, Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms and Forbidden Rice. Those shrimp are almost like mini lobster tails

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 water. 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.

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