Baked Stuffed Oysters

I can eat oysters any day –fried, on the grill, on the half shell, in a bisque, soup or casserole –any day any time. Today I had a taste for baked stuffed oyters and the flavors did not disappoint. If you enjoy oysters as much as I do, then give this dish a try.

Served with one of my tasty mixed cocktails18

With a little squeeze of lemon and we have something going on

If only you could savor the flavor…

 I went about it all like this…

First of all you have to start with quality ingredients. I picked up a pound of oysters from Westborn Market, a place I truly appreciate for their fresh produce, gourmet products, and hard to find food items. To properly get to the jewel inside those shells, use an oyster knife if you should have one…or a good sturdy knife if not. If you don’t have a glove specifically for the purpose of opening oysters, fold a kitchen towel to protect your hand. I used one of my butter knives to open the oysters. You want to get the tip of the knife under the hinge, work it a bit, and simply pry the oyster open. After opening the oysters, I used my little sharpie knife to gently run across the top shell to dislodge the muscle that attaches  the oyster to  its shell. Afterwards run the knife (gently again) under the oyster so that it’s free-floating in its delectable juices on the half shell. Try not to tilt the oyster as you do this — you want to keep that delectableness…that oyster liquor. And of course if your opening of the oyster is less than perfect, just pick out any bits of shell

Yes! This is what we want. That’s a beautiful thing don’t you think? Again, we don’t want to spill any of that sumptuous elixir out of the shells, so try to keep as much as you possibly can within the shell

Oh my! My oh my. At this point we could just squeeze a little fresh lemon over these luscious freshly shucked oysters , add a dash of Tabasco or your favorite Hot Sauce and enjoy. This reminds me of my travels last year (2014) to Rhode Island where we enjoyed a very delicious Seafood dinner at the Nordic Lodge.

Nordic Lodge, Charleston Rhode Island. This is Deven, expert oyster shucker, serving up some great Oysters on the Half Shell. Delicious!  I Had some great conversations with him…a really nice young man.

The Nordic Lodge. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, do stop in. Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program…

 I sautéed three scallions, 2 Tbsp chopped parsley, one medium shallot, 1/4 cup chopped celery,  and 2 cloves of garlic,  (all very finely chopped or minced in a food processor) in 4 Tbsp of butter. After sweating that for a few minutes, I deglazed the pan with 1/4 cup of  Pernod. If you don’t have Pernod, white wine will work quite well. Next, I added heavy cream to a consistency that I wanted. Generally heavy cream is not used, but I wanted a nice creamy texture.  The aromas!!  Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste, and a dash of Tabasco Sauce, 1 Tsp of Worcestershire sauce,  1 Tsp anchovy paste (lends a nice saltines), and let the mixture cook down a bit for a few minutes. At the point pictured above I added finely chopped asparagus. Now, the original recipe calls for 1/2 pound or about 2 cups of  fresh finely chopped spinach — for use with approximately 30 oysters. In this recipe I substituted asparagus for spinach because it was a rainy evening, I had no fresh spinach on hand,  and I really didn’t feel like venturing out into the rain to the fruit and vegetable market just to pick up spinach. Thus… I relaxed, poured myself a lovely glass of white wine, and used what I had on hand–asparagus. So, whatever green vegetable you have on hand. Just give it a good mincing and carry on!

Next I added a four-cheese blend featuring Smoked Provolone, Mozzarella, Asiago, and Romano cheeses just till melted

In another pan I heated about 2 Tbsp of olive oil, and added 3 Tbsp chopped parsley with 1/2 cup of bread crumbs,  seasoned with salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.  Although I delight in making fresh bread crumbs, I used Panko bread crumbs, but gave them a little smash before-hand. Keeping those stocked in your pantry is a must

And mix it all together

Added 1/4 cup grated  Parmesan cheese and mixed it in well. Now we’re ready!

Spooning the asparagus mixture onto those lovely oysters. Ideally you would want to have some rock salt on hand. Again, it was a rainy night, I had none, and I was not venturing out…so I used some Kosher salt. The salt is used just to stabilize the oysters in the dish so they don’t tilt and lose that scrumptious oyster juice. Of course the rock salt will lend to a more appealing presentation and photograph. Thus, I do recommend using it

Oh my…my oh my. These were in a cast iron skillet if you were so wondering

Topping with the breadcrumb mixture

Ready to go into that oven that’s been preheated at 450 F

Topped with a little of that Smoked Provolone, Mozzarella, Asiago, and Romano cheese mixture…because my Men-folk like it like that. Then into an awaiting oven preheated at 450 F and baked until golden…about 10 minutes, but you make the call

Time! Oh let me tell you about it…

Plate with fresh lemon slices. Add a nice mixed cocktail featuring fresh pineapple, apple, cucumber, and white Tequila


And let’s have at it shall we?

Frying up a few oysters was a must. Served with fresh and fried red & green jalapeño peppers, along with capers..amazing

2Baked Stuffed Oysters

Enjoying the lovely sunset behind the Nordic Lodge as we waited for our page for dinner. Very beautiful and serene scenery

Nordic Lodge

Nordic Lodge, Charleston Rhode Island. We had a blast!


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

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


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.

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.


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


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.)


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.

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   🙂

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


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

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