Saturday, July 4, 2015

Lemon Basil Shrimp with Israeli Couscous served with Herbed Garlic Bread

Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous, Jerusalem couscous or pearl pasta, is similar to regular couscous in that it's a small, whole grain-like food made from semolina or wheat flour. I discovered it at a restaurant in Boston when my son was about 2 years old and he devoured my entire serving.

Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp with Israeli Couscous
adapted from Taste of Home June / July 2014

1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous, cooked according to package directions
2 2/3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4  teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh basil, divided
1 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Whisk the lemon juice, oil, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper until blended; stir in 2 tablespoons of the basil. 

Add 2 tablespoons of the dressing to  cooked couscous; reserve remaining dressing. 

Cook the shrimp in a gill pan coated with cooking spray for 2-3 minutes per side or until shrimp turn pink. Toss the shrimp with the reserved dressing. 

Serve over the couscous, sprinkled with lemon peel and remaining basil. 

Don't make this one for date night unless you both love garlic !

Herbed Garlic Bread
adapted from Bon Appetit – October 1994

3 tablespoons butter
tablespoons minced garlic
tablespoons olive oil
tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary 
1/2 loaf Italian bread, cut in half lengthwise
tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Saute the minced garlic in the butter until it is fragrant but not brown. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in the olive oil and rosemary. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper. 

Arrange bread cut side up on a baking sheet lined with foil. Brush the bread generously with the butter mixture. Bake until hot and crisp, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle bread with parsley, cut into 2-inch thick slices to serve. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pickled Bean Sprouts - Who Knew They Would Be So Good !!!

I love bean sprouts in Asian food, especially at Hibachi restaurants. When I buy the bags for a recipe I can not use all of the before they spoil. Dua Gia, as it is known in Vietnamese extends the life of the sprouts and was a is with both of the boys. I add them to salads and sandwiches to add a sweet tang. This was adapted from a recipe that I have had not some time but do not have a reference and I can not find it on the internet. the original recipe suggested serving it with fish, chicken wings or pork stew.

Pickled Bean Sprouts

1 small bag of bean sprouts
2 scallions, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 cup vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar substitute
1 cup water

Combine the bean sprouts, onions and carrot in a bowl and set aside. 

Bring the salt, vinegar, sugar and water to boil. Pour the mixture into a plastic container with a lid and refrigerate until room temperature. Alternatively, let sit i the pan off of the heat until cooled.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables mixture and stir to combine well. Let marinate for at least 1 hour. Drain before serving.

Chicken for Lunches This Week

I like to cook chicken on the weekends in order to have it readily available for salads and sandwiches during the week. This week I chose to make a modified version of Michael Symon's Spicy Soy and Ginger Chicken. Spicy but not too spicy and a wonderfully crisp skin.

Spicy Soy and Ginger Chicken
adapted from Food & Wine September 2013

2 tablespoons Sriracha
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons jarred pureed ginger
1 tablespoons tamari
3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 bone-in chicken chicken
Salt & Freshly ground pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Whisk together the Sriracha, lime zest, lime juice, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce with the olive oil. In a large resealable plastic bag, coat the chicken pieces with the marinade and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Scrape the marinade off the chicken and season the pieces with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in the over until lightly charred, white throughout and an instant-read thermometer inserted in a thigh registers 168°, about 40 minutes.

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

I love roasted corn but do not always have time to soak the corn for an hour before putting it on the grill. In addition my son does not like the smoky flavor that is imparted with this preparation. I grew up with corn that was boiled and after eating roasted corn, boiled just does not have the depth of flavor. Oven roasting intensifies the sweetness of the corn like on the grill without the smoky flavor. Yummmm

Oven Roasted Corn
adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian

4 ears corn, husked
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste 

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place corn on baking sheet.  Pour the butter over the corn. Roll the corn in the butter to coat evenly. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Bake turning occasionally until just starting to brown, about 40 minutes.  

Serve with additional butter, salt and pepper. 

Now for a little Italian Cooking - Coniglio Pizzaiola

We had French for lunch now it is Italian for dinner. Rabbit in a spicy tomato sauce. I have never made rabbit before so when the recipe I based this on said it was the perfect recipe of "those who've never cooked rabbit before", I knew it was where I should begin. The rabbit was served over spaghetti with a side of roasted kohlrabi - again using the vegetables from the farm share.

Coniglio Pizzaiola
adapted from Bon Appetit December 2011 
1 2 1/2–3-pound rabbit, quartered
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 sprigs basil
1 cup white wine
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with rosemary and oregano
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°. 

Season rabbit with salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large ovenproof pot  and working in batches, cook rabbit until golden brown, about 2–3 minutes per side. Transfer rabbit to a plate. 

Add remaining 2 Tbsp. oil to pot. Add onion and shallot; sauté until just beginning to soften. Add garlic, oregano, basil and cook until soft. Add wine; simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.
Crush tomatoes by hand and add to pot with juices.. Add the water; bring to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Return rabbit to pot; cover. 

Place the pot in the oven and braise until meat is tender and almost falling off the bone, about 1 1/4 hours. Transfer meat to a platter. 

Reduce sauce in pot over medium-high heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over rabbit to serve.

Roasted Kohlrabi
adapted from

3 bulbs fresh kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon garlic flavored olive oil
Good vinegar

Preheat the oven to 450F. Toss the diced kohlrabi with olive oil, garlic and salt on a baking sheet lined with foil. Spread out evenly the sheet and roast for about 30 - 35 minutes, until tender.

My First Attempt at French Baguettes

For my first attempt to make the delicious baguettes we had in Paris, I turned to Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book for BREADS (Simon & Schuster, 1987). I used the instructions for the stand mixer. The only thing I changed in the recipe was to cut it in half since the recipe made 4 baguettes and if they were to come out like those in Paris we could certainly eat four but certainly did not need four.

The bread was good but not what we had in Paris. The crust was crunchy leading to a soft center but the center was doughier - not as light and airy.It also had a much stronger yeast taste than what we remembered. It was still better than what is available at the supermarket but not what I was hoping for. Back to the drawing board.

Pain Ordinaire Careme ( A Daily Loaf) page 253
3 cups bread or unbleached flour ( I used Better for Bread)
1 package dry yeast
1 1/4 cups hot water (120-130F)
1 tsp each salt and water

Measure 2 cups of the flour into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the flat beater and add the yeast and water. "The batter will be smooth and pull away from the sides as the gluten develops. It may also try to climb up the beaters and into the motor. If it does, push it down with a rubber scraper. Mix for 10 minutes. When about finished dissolve the salt in the water and add to the blender. Blend for 30 seconds more."
Exchange the flat beater for the dough hook and "add additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough has formed under the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. If it is sticky and clings, add sprinkles of flour. Knead for 10 minutes."

First Rising - 2 hours
"Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough will ore than [triple] in volume".

Second rising - 1 1/2 hours
"Turn back the plastic wrap and turn the dough onto the work surface to knead briefly, about 3 minutes. return the dough to the bowl and recover with wax paper. Allow to rise to more than triple its volume, about 1 1/2 hours."

Shaping - 10 minutes
"The dough will be light and puffy. Turn it onto the floured work surface and punch it down.... Divide into as many pieces as you wish loaves .... Allow pieces of dough to rest for 5 minutes before shaping." .....
For baguettes roll and lengthen each dough piece under your palms to 16" to 20", and 3" to 4" in diameter. Place in a pan".

Third Rising - 1 hour
"Cover the loaves with a cloth .... to allow air to reach the loaves to form a light crust. Leave at room temperature until the dough has risen to more than double its size, about 1 hour."

"Before preheating the oven to 450[F] ... 20 minutes before baking, place a broiler pan on the floor of the oven or bottom rack so it will be there later. Five minutes before baking, pour 1 cup hot water into the hot pan. Becare of the burst of steam - it can burn."

Baking 450F - 25-30 minutes
"Place on the middle shelf of the oven.
The loaves are done when golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Turn one loaf over and if the bottom crust sounds hard and hollow when tapped, the loaf is done."

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Testing a French Recipe - Croque Monsieur

This is definitely not on the Weight Watchers approved menu but it tastes wonderful. Rather than grilled ham and cheese think of a baked ham and swiss with bechamel sauce inside and on top of the sandwich. Served like it was in Paris with a green salad toss with a french vinaigrette and cornichons. Yummmmm!

Croque Monsieur
adapted from Bon Appetit May 2014

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup Wondra flour
1 1/2  cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Kosher salt

4 slices whole grain white bread
6 slices Virginia baked ham
6 slices thin Sargento Swiss cheese
Herbes de Provence

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add Wondra and cook, stirring, until mixture is pale and foamy. Gradually add the cream, stirring until mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thick and somewhat elastic, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the mustard and nutmeg; season to taste with salt.

Spread bread slices with béchamel, extending all the way to the edges. Place 2 slices of bread, béchamel side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet; top with ham and 2 slices cheese each. Top with remaining slices of bread, béchamel side up, then top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Bake until cheese is brown and bubbling,about 12 minutes.

Country French Vinaigrette
The greens were dressed with Penzey's Country French Vinaigrette dressing. 1 tablespoon spice mix, 1 tablespoon water, 1/6 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil.
Country French Vinaigrette