Monday, October 25, 2010

My Glorified Pizza Margherita

FOOD 304

I guess I should have called this site "1o1 things to do with puff pastry"!  I didn't realize how much I use it until I started posting on this blog.  

Anyway, was watching a rather famous cooking show the other day and the hostess made these very adorable little tart things - individually covering each 2 inch round with salty cheesy yummy stuff - and I thought 'how cute are those' , and then 'no way do I want to make 24 of them'! So, after only 2 attempts this was the final - very well received - creation!  I had just purchased the tomatoes and basil from the Farmers Market. I always have puff pastry (as you can tell) And I try to keep olive tapenade handy for little recipes like this. As usual, use whatever flavors are your favorite for toppings - I used Fontina but I imagine a good mozzarella or another white cheese would be just as wonderful.   And try not to feel guilty about eating the entire thing yourself!


1 sheet puff pastry

about 2 cups olive tapenade

about 1 cup cherry tomatoes (the little heirloom mix is lovely)

Fontina cheese

Fresh Basil


Lightly flour both sides of the puff pastry then place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper - poke allover with a fork to keep it from puffing - cover with a second sheet of parchment paper - then place a second baking sheet on top (back side down facing pastry) - bake at 400 for about a half hour or until pastry is golden brown FOOD 303

Remove from oven - spread olive tapenade all over the top - then the sliced tomatoes - then the fontina cheese - then fresh basil - then back in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until cheese is melted and a little bubbly. Remove from oven - let cool for about 5 minutes then add a little more cheese and a little more basil. Serve immediately. FOOD 309

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Simple Grilled Shrimp/Prawns

Copy of FOOD 260
I have to admit cooking seafood is one of those things that is sometimes perfect and sometimes not so much for me. I imagine it is just a matter of practice so there might be quite a few blogs with shrimp/seafood for the next couple weeks - while I "practice"! This recipe was much easier than I anticipated. Great basic flavors - garlic and lemon - no way I could possibly botch that right? And doing all of the cooking on the grill made it even better and faster and left me with almost no clean up in the kitchen (ALWAYS a great thing!)


1 1/2 to 2 pounds extra large shrimp or prawns - peeled and deveined and tails intact
olive oil
little bit of regular granulated sugar


disposable aluminum pan
8 tablespoons butter - cut into pieces
8 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 or 4 pinches red pepper flakes
5 garlic cloves - finely minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley 

lemon wedges for serving


Combine all the sauce ingredients except the parsley in the disposable aluminum pan.

Rinse and dry the shrimp/prawns. Thread onto skewers - making sure there are no gaps between. Brush  both sides with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle the sugar on one side of each skewer.

Turn gas grill to high and heat until very hot. Scrape clean then leave open about 5 minutes to let cool slightly. 

Set the aluminum pan on the grill and let cook until the  butter is completely melted and garlic is very fragrant - maybe 2 or 3 minutes. Move the pan to a far side and turn that burner off. Place the shrimp skewers with sugared sides down on the hottest side of the grill. Grill uncovered until slightly charred - 4 or 5 minutes (adjust this time according to the size shrimp you have) Flip the skewers and grill another 1 to 2 minutes - just until second side is pink. 
FOOD 247 
Now carefully lift each skewer and - using tongs - scrape all shrimp into disposable pan of sauce. Toss the shrimp and sauce until all the shrimp are coated then slide the pan back onto the hotter side of the grill. Cook - stirring constantly - until all the shrimp are fully cooked and opaque - maybe another minute to minute and half  FOOD 249
Remove from the grill - add parsley - toss all together FOOD 252
Serve with fresh lemon wedges - a fantastic grilled tri tip and peppered mashed potatoes
Copy (2) of FOOD 260


Monday, October 11, 2010

Shrimp Wraps

This is an old post but I'm making them so I thought I would share again - and because they are THAT good!  I also think this is an old America's Test Kitchen recipe but I'm not sure. In any case, I hope you try it - they are Delicious.

I'm not really sure how to describe these - It's a shrimp mix, wrapped in a leaf of butter lettuce. That's about all there is to it but it got RAVE reviews at dinner the other night so I thought I should share with all you out there. The fresh orange and orange juice 'salsa' (I use that word very loosely) coupled with the spicy red chile is a very happy mix with the shrimp and bacon and herbs. Not too labor intensive - except cooking bacon. And as was pointed out to me the other night the "good" of all the fresh ingredients outweighs the "bad" of the bacon so therefore this dish is excellent on the calorie count scale! (not sure how i feel about all that but it was amusing)

Hope you give it a go!


2 oranges - sectioned, seeded and chopped 

1 or 2 hot red chiles - depending on how much heat you like - but definitely use at least one

3 scallions - white and green parts chopped

4 tablespoons fresh cilantro 

10 to 12 Large shrimp - (or more - I think I did close to 20 the other night)

4 - 6 slices bacon - chopped

1 head Butter leaf lettuce

few splashes of white wine 

olive oil




Wash and dry the Butter leaf lettuce then let dry some more on a paper towel.

Chop the oranges, chiles, scallions and cilantro an put all together in a large bowl. Set aside
FOOD 237

Rinse and pat dry all the shrimp. Put into a large bowl and gently toss with a little salt and pepper. Set aside.

Fry the bacon until just crisp. Remove from the pan and set on a plate covered with a paper towel to drain. Set aside. Drain the bacon grease from the pan then use a few splashes of white wine to deglaze the pan - let cook until most all the liquid is gone - make sure to leave the remnants of the bacon for the shrimp. Add a little bit of olive oil and then add the shrimp in one layer in the pan- 2 to 3 minutes per side (may need more time depending on the size you have) You will probably have to do this in batches in order to get all the shrimp done. While working in batches to fry the shrimp I usually remove the tails of the cooked pieces and give them a rough chop.

When all the shrimp is cooked - remove all tails - chop up all pieces - add to the orange chile mixture - add the bacon - 4 tablespoons of olive oil - salt and pepper to taste.

Place 2 or 3 pieces of lettuce on a plate. Fill with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of the shrimp orange mixture then serve immediately.

Friday, October 8, 2010

White Chocolate with nuts and dried fruit

Very quick! Very easy! Very little mess!


Your microwave

1 bag of good white chocolate - i think they are usually about 12 ounces?

1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts

handful dried cranberries - chopped

handful dried apricots - chopped

(I have been told I have rather small hands - so I think a handful might be about a 1/4 cup - maybe a little less - and I apologize for forgetting to measure out the quantity...again!)


Toast and chop the walnuts first so they have time to cool - clean baking sheet - oven at 350 - around 7 minutes - give or take a minute depending on your oven. On another clean baking sheet lay out a large piece of parchment paper.  Set aside.  In a microwave safe bowl put all the chocolate in and heat at high in 30 second increments - until all is melted. You will have to stir in between each microwave session. When the chocolate is ready spread out on the baking sheet covered with the parchment paper - spread out to about the size of a standard sheet of printer paper and somewhere between an 1/8 to a 1/4 inch high - i suppose about the size of a thin pancake. Sprinkle all the walnuts evenly across the top - then the dried apricots - then the dried cranberries. Put in fridge for at least 1 hour before breaking into pieces and consuming!  Enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Brussels Sprouts with bacon and golden raisins

FOOD 214
Brussels Sprouts.....OOOOO??? or EEWWW???
As a child the slimy, gross, martian head looking things were sheer torture! Many a night I went to bed with a growling tummy because I would not eat them. My mother tried dousing them in ketchup, the icky liquid cheese sauce (which I love now) kim chee, soy sauce...nothing worked. Twenty years later I decide to give them a go. Remembering my childhood I am more than a little skeptical but willing to test. This recipe has now become the favorite and most requested item for any size gathering. Try it. It has bacon, how bad could it be?
1 pound brussels sprouts
1/2 package bacon
2 handfuls Golden Raisins - maybe about 3/4 cup?
1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth
I actually chop and cook an entire package of bacon because when I take it out of the pan and leave it to drain I find everyone munching on it and usually end up with about half the package. Which is perfect. So, chop and cook bacon till mostly crispy. While bacon is cooking, wash and cut sprouts in quarters - cutting them up this way makes them cook much faster and much more evenly. Set aside. When the bacon is done remove from the pan and let the pieces drain on a plate covered with a paper towel or two (then watch it disappear) Drain the bacon fat from the pan till you have about a 1/4 cup left. Pan back to stove - add cut up sprouts. On medium high heat stir sprouts until pretty much all are covered with little pieces of bacon and the bacon drippings. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and keep stirring for another 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium low and add the cooked bacon and golden raisins - cook till tender or done to your liking (i do not like them mushy so mine are usually done in 6 or 7 minutes) Stir every couple of minutes to make sure all the pieces are cooking. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.