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 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   :-)

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