Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Skillet Shrimp and Rice

I'm constantly on the prowl for recipes to try at home, and I'll draw inspiration from just about anywhere.

There was the Chicken Pepperoni from a Goldie Hawn movie from 1980. And, in an upcoming post, I'll write what I learned about cooking from Spenser, the detective of the Robert Parker series of books.

This one hit me the minute I walked through the doors of the Shaw's market where I often shop. Shaw's doesn't have the cooking show in a box meals offered by Hannaford's and reviewed here not too long age. Shaw's instead has a rack of 30 minute or less recipes; I pocketed a couple and experimented this week with the Skillet Shrimp and Rice.

A word about shrimp. Maybe it's me but when I cook with shrimp -- or more specifically when I eat a shrimp dish -- I hate to wrestle with the tails. I know you can just snip the tails off with a flick of your knife, but I don't like leaving that little morsel of meat behind. So in addition to making sure the shrimp is deveined and peeled I'll make sure it's peeled right down to the tail.

Now a word about the choice between the chorizo or kielbasa that's called for in this recipe. Chorizo packs a little bit of heat. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but for this recipe and bowing to wife Jane's preference for the road less spicy I opted for kielbasa, which is a Polish sausage usually made of pork. I opted for the leaner, weight friendly turkey.

1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper
4 ounces chorizo or kielbasa, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 onion chopped fine
6 garlic cloves sliced thin
1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups water
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
1 cup frozen peas

Please note: This recipe calls for the use of a large ovenproof skillet.
Part I
1) Heat oven to 350 degrees
2) Toss shrimp with 1 teaspoon of oil, paprika and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a bowl
3) Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large overproof skillet over medium-high heat until smoking
4) Add half of shrimp and cook until lightly browned all over
5) Transfer shrimp to clean bowl and repeat with remaining shrimp. Cover bowl

Part II
1) Reduce heat to medium and add remaining tablespoon of oil, kielbasa (or chorizo), onion and garlic
2) Cook until sausage begins to brown, 5 to 6 minutes
3) Add rice and cook 1 minute
4) Stir in tomatoes, water, clam juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt
5) Bring to boil over high heat, cover, and transfer skillet to oven
6) Cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes
7) Remove skillet from oven, stir in peas, and scatter shrimp over top
8) Cover and set aside until shrimp and peas are heated through, about 5 minutes
9) Season with salt and pepper and serve directly from the skillet
Serves 4 to 6.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Applesauce, sort of

I called it an applesauce. My wife Jane said it was more like a filling for apple pie. Whatever it was, it was great with pork.

The need was comfort food. Jane was having a rough week at work, and what better way to feel better about the world than some good old fashioned comfort food, so I decided on some loin chops, which I breaded and baked. It was also apple picking season and we had a bag of McIntosh, which I love for their crunch and tartness when fresh picked.

Since pork and applesauce go together like pork and applesauce (and since the jar of applesauce in the refrigerator was way past its prime) I decided to do a stove-top sidedish for the pork using some of the Macs. The fact that I had some pure maple sugar in the pantry made it all the better.

Six apples -- my choice were the McIntosh -- pared, cored and cut up
Half stick unsalted butter
Maple sugar (or regular sugar)
Cinammon to taste

1) After paring and coring, quarter the apples and then quarter the quarters;
2) In medium skillet over medium high heat, melt butter;
3) Add apple and sautee until the apples begin to soften;
4) Allow the liquid to start boiling away, allowing the mixture to thicken;
5) Mash up the soften mixture to desired texture. At this stage if desired it can be mashed in the skillet to a sauce;
4) Add a tablespoon of maple sugar;
5) Add cinammon;
6) Serve on top of or as a side to the pork.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Crabby Guacamole

By Paul Briand

So I'm thinking game food the other day and wondering how I can jazz up a chip and dip in honor of the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park.

I'm looking for something special for a special game and come up with Crabby Guacamole -- a twist on the usual guacamole and chips using crab meat and a generous helping of garlic. I like how well the guacamole stands up to the crab, especially with the infusion of the garlic. Given that lobster prices have been coming down, I almost opted for lobster meat, similarly bold in taste, but went with crab meat instead in honor of my wife Jane's Maryland upbringing.

The presentation here is as much a part of the jazzing up as the dip itself, so be sure to set aside the avocado skin as directed.

Six ounces of crab meat
One ripe avocado
3 garlic cloves
Dollop of mayonnaise
Dash of hot sauce
Squeeze of lemon juice

1) Halve the avocado, remove the pit and spoon out the meat into a mixing bowl. Set avocado halves aside;
2) Mash avocado meat;
3) Use a garlic press to prepare the garlic and mix directly into the avocado;
4) Add a dollop of mayonnaise, dash of hot sauce, squeeze of lemon and mix;
5) Gently fold in the crab meat, setting aside about 2 tablespoon's worth;
6) Scoop the mixture into each half of the avocado skin;
7) Top each half with leftover crab meat;
8) Serve on a large plate with yellow corn tortilla chips.

As good as the dip was, it wasn't that much of a good luck charm for my beloved Red Sox. They lost badly 9-1 in Game 3.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes

No, this isn't about the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes." But it is about cooking them.

From my birthday gift garden, this week I had some tomatoes that were still green with no hope of ripening with the advent of dropping autumn night and day temperatures. So rather than waste the tomatoes I went in search of a recipe to use them and found one from fellow a fellow contributor to

Examiner, by the way, enlists contributors from a variety of interests. I write about Baby Boomers. My fellow Examiner Chef John contributes recipes, including this one for Fried Green Tomatoes. This includes a spicy remoulade sauce as a garnish:

4 slices (about half inch each) of green tomato
1 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cub corn meal
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter

1) On a rack, salt the tomato slices and set aside;
2) In a bowl, create the breading mixture of the bread crumbs and corn meal, adding some pepper, salt and the cayenne to taste;
3) In another bowl, beat the two eggs with a splash of milk;
4) Put the flour in another bowl;
5) Use a paper towel to wipe the moisture from the tomato slices;
6) Take each slice through the breading process -- first dredge with flour, then dip into the eggs, then fully coat with the bread crumb/corn flour mix;
7) Let sit for about 10 minutes;
8) In the meantime, to make the remoulade, combine equal parts sweet relish and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Add hot sauce to taste and mix;
9) In pan over medium heat use about an eighth of an inch of vegetable oil and add butter;
10) When the butter is bubbly, cook slices 3-4 minutes on each side;
11) Serve with dollop of sauce.

They're perfect as a side to just about any meal. I increased the yield and we had them with Ground Turkey Enchiladas the other night, then I had the leftovers with a ham and cheese omelet for lunch the next day.

Here's a video of Chef John's Green Fried Tomatoes:

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Clam Dip

This week's contributor, Sue Rorke, loves to cook but isn't one to follow recipes. "Either I misread them, don't have the exact ingredients, or don't like the exact ingredients -- so I wing it a lot," she said.

Her favorite meal to prepare and eat is pasta and she can turn just about anything from the kitchen into something to toss with pasta, except, she admits, popcorn, which was a recent challenge from her daughter. But it's her clam dip that is requested most often.

"While I am a really excellent cook, and constantly cook food that I love, this is really the only recipe that anyone requests," she said. "My family has been pigging out on it ever since I remember.  Every bowl is a race to the finish."

At stay at home mom in Medway, Mass., she has a start-up business called PhotoMoves, which produces DVD slideshows, poster collages, and website design and set-up. 

1 can of minced clams -- 6.5 ounces
1 package of cream cheese - 8 ounces (Note: the 1/3 less fat versions are okay, too)
1 or 2 teaspoon minced onions
(1 grated carrot)
(1 teaspoon basil)
1) Put cream cheese in a bowl and sort of break it up with a fork. Let warm to room temperature to soften;
2) Add minced onions. Stir with a fork until smooth and creamy;
3) Drain the clam juice into a cup. Add about half of the juice slowly to the cream cheese until the correct consistency;
4) Stir in the carrot and basil;
5) Add the clams and stir until well mixed;
6) Grab a bag of chips and dig in.

Sue recently modified the recipe by adding the grated carrot and basil and said it makes it better.

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