Tempura (天ぷら ) Shrimp & Vegetables With A Honey-Fig Reduction


I love the use of tempura batter because it’s lite and allows the flavor of what you coat  it with shine thru quite well… while still giving you the  taste of a very wonderful batter. The simplicity of this dish certainly shines. Tempura a Japanese method of frying seafood and/or vegetables that have been battered.  I only wanted a lite coating of the batter, as I did not want to obscure the texture and flavor of the vegetables — nor  of my fresh from the Gulf of Florida shrimp.  I prefer that you’re able to actually see what the batter is coating.

The squash blossoms were stuffed with a lovely Herb honey goat cheese mixture featuring  rosemary, thyme, marinated red cherry pepper, marinated artichoke, a little salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Simply Sublime

Yellow summer squash and sliced zucchini

I began with a very beautiful plate of fresh shrimp straight from the Florida Gulf. The aroma is amazing

Summer squash, blossoms, thyme, and rosemary from my garden

Peeled, deveined, and cleaned the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. To stretch the shrimp out flat, make a small cut on the underside and simply straighten them out

Allowed the shrimp to marinate in Saki for 30 minutes

After removing from the Saki bath, I sprinkled them with a little cornstarch, which aids in giving a nice crisp texture. The tempura batter was made by mixing 2 beaten egg yolks, 2 cups of ice water, and 2 cups of sifted flour

Save the shrimp shells for later use in making a wonderful seafood stock. I placed them in a ziplock bag and into the freezer they went.

Over medium flame, heat…in a medium pot (or deep fryer), 4 inches of oil (Canola or peanut) to 350 F. Fry the shrimp in batches for 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Do likewise with the vegetables

The texture was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to see the shrimp and squash through the batter. The flavor was amazing. I also fried (with no batter) red pepper rings, grape tomatoes, and sliced jalapeño peppers, garnished with fresh rosemary and thyme

The Honey-Fig reduction really balanced the dish out nicely and was a nice complement to the Honey Herb goat cheese stuffing in the squash blossoms.

A great wine pairing would be a nice crisp Pinot Grigio or Sweet White Blend

Tempura (天ぷら ) Shrimp & Vegetables With A Honey-Fig Reduction

For dessert…

Grilled Pears with a Honey Yogurt Sauce with dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese

Bon Appétit Logo

Zucchini Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms, Zucchini Casserole, 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

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

Fried Green Tomatoes & Eggplant With Basil Mayonaise

Each spring through out the years, with the planting of my garden, I’ve always looked forward to ONE crop especially above all others.  And that’s those nice big, plump green tomatoes. During the winter months and really around January and February, I start doing some “armchair” gardening. I begin ordering new seed catalogs and anticipating the ones I’m already subscribed to–to map out what veggies I want to plant.     The Joy of Seed/Gardening Catalogs!

Finally this year, Hubby got his major yard jobs completed, and I was able to get my veggies in like I’m used to– it was a late start, about mid July, but still, it was pretty good. My tomatoes are just beginning to put out some nice size green tomatoes. The ones I have fried thus far, mostly have been those given to me by close friends and family. But I have fried some from my own garden this year. In any event, this post is an “Ode to the Fried Green Tomato” with a little eggplant thrown in.

Oh the sweet taste of Fried Green Tomatoes!

Capers “pop” with a mouth-watering tangy goodness

Garnished with fresh basil. The eggplant were gifts to us from the garden of some very close friends

Simply coated with corn meal with a little salt and freshly cracked black pepper. The basil mayo was quite easy as well. Just a little Hellman’s, pepper, and fresh basil processed in my mini chopper with just a touch of olive oil to make it fluid. Taste test to your basilicious liking

Thai basil nestled between sage, leeks and chives. I didn’t use the Thai basil, just regular basil for this recipe

This is from 2007. It was late fall and the weather was really getting cold, and I was forced to gather up all of the green tomatoes. My crop this year was not as productive as this one…that year saw a bumper crop in tomatoes. I’ll always remember my tomatoes from 2007 and incidentally a majority of the plants were given to us by some very good friends–   Bill & Avis–much appreciated

Some of the veggies from our good friends mentioned at the out-set. The eggplants are under there somewhere. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…its good to have great friends!

Another great friend built the raised beds, now all was needed was the soil

Hey the soil was delivered…had to get my boys to get ta shovelin! I’m looking forward to next years garden as I’ll plant on time and extend my gardening area in another part of the yard. Yes, its time to get back to a full garden of vegetables. And of course I’ll have to find a way to effectively deal with the critters who make my yard their regular stop. They think my boxes are Ruby’s All Night Buffet–All You Can Eat!

This little guy and other members of his family totally decimated my string beans and cauliflower. They had help from the groundhog family as well. Well (in my Jack Benny voice)–we’ll see about that next year!

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms & Orzo With Red Pepper Sauce

Ever since I’ve been gardening, I’ve always grown zucchini and yellow summer squash and its a shame to let those big beautiful blossoms just sit there and look pretty. Mind you, they are beautiful flowers and appealing for the eyes to gaze upon. However, they’re even better stuffed, batter-dipped and fried. Some may have a problem eating edible flowers, and if you fall in that group, I say go for it! Personally I love growing flowers and you can find me in my yard tending to them or just sitting on the patio enjoying the displayed beauty. But then again, I LOVE to cook, and in this case I had to combine the two.  No regrets, just happiness…even more-so.

Served with orzo, and a fresh red bell pepper sauce & pesto

So delicately delicious

Picked fresh squash (zucchini) blossoms this morning

I also picked a few of these little sweet red peppers…giving them a char for the red pepper sauce

Let them sweat it out a bit in order to remove the skins. Next, gave them a rough chop and added them to my mini mixer with a little sauteed garlic and shallots dash of salt and pepper… and chicken broth to the desired consistency

Zucchini blossoms are very delicate and will only last a day or so after picking them, so you’ll want to get going on this recipe right away. Got the blossoms ready by removing the stamens, and made sure they’re clean inside, gave them a rinse under cold water along with the basil. I made a pesto with the basil by processing it along with a little garlic, a little Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Some pine nuts would have been great, but none were found in the cupboards. It was still very tasty just the same

Getting the cheese filling ready–mixed cream cheese with a blend of  Queso Quesadilla, Asadero, Queso Gallego, Manchego & Anejo Enchilada Cheeses. I know, I know, not your usual suspects of ricotta, fresh mozzarella, or other soft cheeses and Parmesan for this dish, but I had to use what I had on hand, and that was a nice Mexican blend.  I say use what you have or what your palate desires. I love smoked salmon, so I minced some of that in there along with some fresh cracked black pepper. I didn’t add any salt—the cheese blend took care of that. Dropped one egg yolk in there and mixed well

Stuffed to the gills and ready for the frying pan

Fry till golden

A delicate platter indeed with a lovely subtle taste. The pesto sauce was really nice with the squash blossoms. Garnished with fresh basil and oregano leaves

And the red pepper sauce worked great with the orzo

And the fork worked great for me. Dig In!

Iris & Company

When I’m not thinking of something to cook, I love getting out into the backyard and piddle around with my flowers. Things got off to a grand start with that blast of ‘summer’ in March, but this is Michigan, so things went back to “normal” in April and seemingly everything just halted…well slowed down to a crawl anyways. But those Irises didn’t seem to matter much about all that, and they’re doing just dandy.

My little Iris patch. My former neighbor brought over 2 Irises from my old back yard that was adjacent to her yard. Seems the new occupant of our former home don’t really care much for flowers and got rid of all the irises. But a few had made their way under the fence into my neighbors yard, and she was kind enough to bring me a couple of them. That was about 4 years ago, and they’ve been growing strong ever since. I greatly appreciated her thoughtfulness…she knows how I love my flowers. She’s a “flower” girl as well.

Lovely colors

Lets look inside shall we…

Only our Loving Creator could create such intricate beauty

Allium. Look closely and you’ll spy a few ants busy about their business.

Go to the ant, you lazy one; see its ways and become wise. 7 Although it has no commander, officer or ruler, 8 it prepares its food even in the summer; it has gathered its food supplies even in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8)

Azalea

Azalea up close

Poppy–While out and about in the neighborhood last weekend, me and a friend of mine (who loves flowers as much as I do) spotted 3 large flowers on the other side of the street. I told her that we needed to go take a better look, and we did just that. Upon closer inspection, those three big blooms were ever so beautiful! Poppies!! And those were just the three that had bloomed. There was a nice little patch of them in various stages of growth and many were on the verge of blooming. Well! Seeing that this was a vacant lot, and the flowers were just at the edge of the sidewalk…we looked at each other and said almost simultaneously; “We’re coming back with our shovels.” And we did just that the very next day bright and early in the AM. We were to women working those shovels.

Poppy getting ready to pop on out.

So this is my ‘transplant’ in my back yard. They’ll survive just fine. Just have to get over the initial shock of being plucked up and relocated. Next year they’ll be back with a vengance

This one has lost its wrapper and ready for the ‘unfolding’

Prickly Situation

Took a moment out of the day to plant a few cacti and succulents in a large pot that needed attention…it was empty :/…so I figured an interesting cactus garden would be nice.

Various cacti & succulents include  Blue Chalk Sticks (Senecio mandralisae) Jade (Crassula argentea), Old Lady Cactus (Mammillaria hahniana), Rainbow Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra variegata), Bristle Bush Cactus (Mammillaria pilcayensis), Andromischus, Undulatus (Andromishus undulatus), Eves Needle (Opuntia sabulata), and Echeveria Ruffles. I know that sounds a tad confusing…perhaps I’ll post them individually with their respective names when time permits.

Although these are slow growing, I know the time is coming when a few may have to be moved out to avoid crowding.

All cactus plants are succulents, however, not all succulents are cacti. There are many, many separate groups of plants that include varieties which are succulents (meaning the ability to hold water), the cactus being but one of the tribe. Among the succulents are some of the most highly varied and remarkably well adapted plants in the world–able to exist on high mountains, in deserts, and on the seashore, and in tropical jungles—very adaptable

I’m sure you readily can identify the well known jade plant on the right. The jade plant (Crassula argentea) has a tree-like shape that branches and grows beautifully. They can grow 3 feet or taller as potted plants

Oh that one on the right!—Had to put on my “big girl” garden gloves for sure to handle that one.

My “big girl” garden gloves as I prepare to plant the Old Lady Cactus. It’s quite painful to get one of those thorns in your skin, especially the hair-like ones that you really can’t see after they imbed in you. I know, I’ve had to dig a few out in the past.  Ouch!

It’s not always easy to be certain which of the thorny and prickly plants are true cactus, so it’s safe to refer to all plants in the group with the general term ‘succulents. The Echeveria Ruffles looks very well like something from the vegetable garden doesn’t it?

My living room window faces due west, so they soak up the sun all day

This prickly one sits in my dining room window. It propagates itself by dropping it’s top most ‘heads.’ I was wondering why I would see little bits of it laying on the floor. So I just pick them up and plop them in a another planter, and they multiply from there

We’ve had this one since 2003. It was just a little thing back then. My boys picked it out as they did most of the cacti that year. They say that cactus plants are “boy” plants, because they’re not frilly looking. By the way, you can see some of those little pieces that had fallen off of the cactus in the previous photo…this is one of the planters I’ve plopped those little ‘heads’ in, and they’re spreading

Another since 2003

This Aloe is Aloe arborescens, and is well known and cultivated for its statuesque lines. In it’s native habitat, it grows to a height of 15 feet, and has red flowers at the end of winter. I’ve had it for many years and it has never flowered..well, not as of yet, but I’m hopeful. It has however, grown quite tall as you can see in the next photo

Reaching for the ceiling

Small Cacti pot

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