Arancini

One of my most favorite appetizer dishes is none other than Arancini, or more commonly known as stuffed rice balls. This is a dish of little Sicilian or Italian Rice Balls that are usually filled in the center with a creamy cheese or meat sauce ragù, then breaded and fried. They’re reminiscent of little orange balls.

Arancina means “little orange” in Italian and thus.. hence, we have these little “orange” balls of stuffed rice bursting with flavor. For this recipe I used Mushroom Risotto that was leftover from the prior days dinner.

Served with a tasty marinara sauce and topped with fresh Parmesan Cheese and fresh basil

18aThe cheese of choice for these delectable morsels was Havarti. Of course choose the cheese or cheese combination of your liking

zootooPrepare your rice or risotto per package instructions. Allow it to cool completely

shroomzI had on hand some very nice looking Shiitake mushrooms. I greatly enjoy the taste of these east Asian mushrooms. I add them at the end of cooking the risotto as I want them to retain texture and firmness

3Take a scoop or risotto or rice–about 2 Tbsps full and flatten out a tad in the palm of your hand

4Place your cheese of choice, or ragù in the center of the risotto and fold it over using your palms to make a ball

7aOh, they look so nice. Can you spot the shiitake mushrooms and orange bell pepper?

8aRoll them in the flour

10aA little dip in beaten eggs

11aCoat with seasoned Panko bread crumbs. I seasoned the bread crumbs with parsley, pepper, a little onion & garlic powder

12aOut of the bread crumbs and into the 350 oil frying pot

13aFry a few at time until nicely golden

14aPlace on paper towels to drain off excess oil

16aAdd a touch of parsley, fresh basil, and Parmesan cheese and that’s it!

17aA very delicious appetizer or snack — Arancini

22aThat Harvarti cheese tho…

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!

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.

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


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

Chile Rellenos

I simply love Mexican food, and I can safely say that it is my all time, most favorite cuisine. I have many favorites, but there’s just something so special to me about Mexican food, the culture, the music, dance, etc. It’s just all screaming my name. When I walk past the various chilies at the fruit and veggie  market, I stop and linger there, thinking of how I can incorporate them into a nice meal. Usually when I bring home poblano peppers, my son immediately wants me to make green chile cheeseburgers, and that’s what I end up cooking. This time however, I told him that its Mom’s turn, and my mind was on Chile Rellenos…say it…the name is so inviting. I must say, I greatly enjoyed this meal. I felt as if I was sitting in one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.

Ahhh   Chile Rellenos! Resting on a sauce of roasted red bell pepper and grilled paquillo peppers

With a crumble of Queso Fresco and a drizzle of Mexican crema

I began by washing my peppers under cool running water with  little dish soap. They’re all nice and clean and ready to go

Time to give them a little roast.  I prefer to set them directly over the flame on the stove. We want to give them a nice char all around, so keep those tongs handy to turn them occasionally. Theres nothing like the smell of peppers roasting. Alternatively, you can arrange the peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the oven under the broiler. Broil, turning them until they are nicely blistered and charred on all sides. Or outside on the grill. Several ways to char those peppers

After they’re blistered and charred all around, place them in a zip-loc bag and allow them to steam for about 15 to 20 minutes

Remove the peppers from the bag and pull off the skin. This should be quite easy. If you run into a few ‘stubborn’ spots, gently wipe with a paper towel. However, be very careful–we don’t want to tear the pepper. This is a delicate operation. Don’t worry if a few charred spots remain. This will add good flavor

5All ready to be seeded and stuffed

Use a small sharp kitchen utility knife, or kitchen shears as I’m using here to make a cut along the peppers. Then a cut across the top (forming a T) will help to get those seeds out

Generally you want to stuff them with cheese only, but you can stuff them to your liking–meat, vegetables, meat and vegetables, etc. I had already cooked up some ground beef for tacos to accompany the peppers, and my men-folk like a nice stuffed pepper. So I added some of the taco meat to a few of the peppers

In addition to the onions, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder,  salt, pepper, and cumin that seasoned the ground beef, a nice Mexican oregano went in as well

Add the shredded Monterey Jack cheese on top of the meat, and repeat with the rest of the peppers. As mentioned, two were stuffed with the addition of the taco meat, and two were stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese only–I preferred the cheese only peppers. You may have to use tooth picks to secure the peppers–we don’t want to lose any of that filling while they are frying

Coat the peppers with flour by laying it in the flour and covering. We want to make sure we completely cover the peppers. Place them on a platter while the batter is made

I used four large eggs–one per pepper. Separate the yokes from the whites, reserving the yokes

Use an electric hand mixer to whip the egg whites until they are nice and fluffy. Perhaps you’ve noticed that there is only one beater on my mixer. Well, I’ve had this thing for years…years!…and several years ago the lodging for one of the beaters broke.  I just couldn’t throw it out and found that the one beater sufficed. This was one of my very first kitchen utensil purchases back when I was a teen

We’re getting there. Those whites beginning to get a nice consistency to them. Now alternatively you could just do this the old fashioned way with a whisk, or a fork even. I’ve  done it that way many times…just have to use a little muscle power and endurance  🙂

That’s what we want–nice stiff, fluffy peaks

Give the egg yokes a little stir to mix, then add to the egg whites

Gently fold in those yokes. I swirled them in with my ‘one armed’ beater without the power on. Hmmmm….now why am I thinking about the movie “The Fugitive?”

Completely coat the chilies. Keep a towel handy to keep your hands clean as you drop them into the heated oil

Fry them in about an inch of oil on a medium heat. until nice and golden, then…

…turn and cook the other side the same

Turn to get all sides, as for around the stem, I contantly spooned the hot oil onto the chile so as to brown it. You can do that for those spots that are difficult to get into the oil

Place on paper towels to drain

Plate on the sauce, drizzle and crumble on the cheese. I made the  sauce by roasting a red bell pepper, and the sweet red pepper the same as I did the poblano peppers. I put them into the blender along with some grilled (jarred) paquillo peppers along with a little salt and pepper to taste, a roasted garlic clove, a little olive oil, and blended till smooth.

The chile rellenos was served with tacos and Spanish rice to complete the meal

Love on a plate

So very tasty. I’ll be making these again quite soon

Chile Rellenos

Smoked Salmon Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers–My Spicy Crave

Once in a while–quite often I might add–I get a taste for something spicy, and what better way to satisfy my spicy crave with none other than some nice stuffed jalapeno peppers. I always have smoked salmon hanging out in the fridge and of course there’s cream cheese sitting as its neighbor, so why not add those two together to create a lovely stuffed pepper. I made Jalapeno Poppers sometime ago, and the recipe for cutting the jalapeno and making the batter is the same here. The only difference this time around is that I didn’t do a double dredge in the flour.

Fried till nice and golden — Oh, que es tan bueno!

The dollop of sour cream nicely balanced the heat from the peppers

So I began by spitting the pepper length-wise, then making another cut across the top (forming a ‘T’),  scoop out the seeds and veins. Leave some of those seeds in if you really want some heat…the more the merrier. I stuffed them with a nice mixture of sautéed (minced) onion & garlic, smoked red bell peppers (who says you can’t stuff peppers with more peppers?), Jack cheese, cream cheese, mushrooms, and smoked salmon. Oh what joy!

A few of my favorite things

I had a little of the mixture left over, so I stuffed a small yellow bell pepper…that one has a pleasant mildness. The Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers were then dipped in the batter and fried in 350 F oil until nice and golden. As for the stuffed yellow bell pepper–it was baked at 350 for about 15 minutes

And my crave for spiciness was quite put at bay…for now that is

The yellow bell pepper had a wonderfully mild taste in contrast to the jalapeno peppers. It was quite welcoming after contending with the heat

Rounded the meal off with some quick Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas. More jalapenos  please!

Me encanta picante

And That’s My Crave For Spicy Thangs

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