Triple Citrus Shrimp Taco

Hola mi Amigos! Cinco de Mayo is quickly approaching and we’re orchestrating like a symphony here. This is the best little taco north of Mexico. Hell, it’s the tastiest little jewel you’ll serve Saturday the 5th. Let the Mexicans celebrate their army’s unlikely victory in the Battle of Pueblo in 1862 (not to be confused with their Independence Day celebrated in September); and we shall celebrate our love of margaritas and all things delicious that go down oh so smoothly!

Southwestern Shrimp Tacos
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbs minced fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbs Asian seasoning
2 t firmly packed light brown sugar
2 t lime zest
2 t lemon zest
2 t orange zest
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
6 crunchy taco shells
Head of leaf lettuce
Guacamole
Sour cream
Cilantro, chopped

In medium bowl, combine oil, thyme, Asian seasoning, brown sugar, zests, salt, pepper, and garlic.
Add shrimp and toss to coat.
Preheat skillet to medium high.
Toss in shrimp and cook 1 1/2 minutes on both sides, tossing until fully cooked, 3 to 4 minutes.

To serve:
Place leaf lettuce inside taco.
Layer with shrimp and guacamole.
Place sour cream on side of plate.
Sprinkle all with cilantro.

PtotheS…this shrimp recipe is excellent served over a bed of rice or orzo, with a side of sauteed asparagus.

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

IMG_4037Taking a little mental trip back to my time in Thailand. Call me lazy…I’m finally getting around to completing my photo book of this trip that was fourteen months ago! All of the treats that we enjoyed keep popping up in my noggin as I pour over the hundreds of photographs. This recipe is based on a chicken soup that Chef Ohm of the Anantara Riverside Resort taught us. As we cooked by his side throughout the afternoon, along with a splash or more of champagne…he uttered some nice sayings like “remember that a recipe has no soul on its own; you bring the soul to it.” And Chef Ohm brought it folks! Sharing the soul and love; just sharing it.

Soup Thai Chicken Coconut Soup II

Ingredients:
3 Tbs sesame oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 medium carrots, diced
4 celery ribs, diced
2 t fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cans light coconut milk
2 Tbs red curry paste
3/4 t salt
3/4 t black pepper
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 Tbs smooth, light peanut butter
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 green onions, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Fresh cilantro leaves
Salted peanuts, chopped

Directions:
In large saucepan, heat sesame oil over medium heat.
Add chicken, carrots, and celery.
Cook and stir until vegetables are softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute.
Stir in tomatoes, coconut milk, curry paste, salt, and pepper.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
Add edamame; cook 10 more minutes.
Stir in peanut butter.
Stir in spinach, green onions, and lime.
Cook until spinach is wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Place in soup bowls.
Top with cilantro and chopped peanuts.
Garnish with a lime wedge.
Serves 8.

IMG_4052

A sampling from our private cooking class with Chef Ohm. Yummy!

Bacon and Egg Bánh Mì

Cooking around the globe…my favorite passion! Last February we chased our culinary dreams (and a few very fine golf courses for the don!) to Vietnam. The darling gal pictured here was our guide throughout the charming town of Hoi An, their market, and the Red Bridge Cooking School. Sensory overload is a total understatement! IMG_4455 (2)One easy take away was the Bánh Mì; that’s Vietnamese for bread, more specifically the baguette, which was introduced by the French during the colonial period in Vietnam. Unlike the traditional French baguette, the Vietnamese baguette is made with rice flour, making it airier. In Vietnamese cuisine, Bánh Mì is typically made into a sandwich, commonly including pickled daikon radishes, carrots, cucumber slices, cheeses and cold cuts of choice. I mixed it up a little bit here! But first, a couple of fun market images…

IMG_4474

IMG_4471 (9)

And since I’m hooking you up with an egg Bahn Mi recipe, here’s our Market egg lady!

4 large carrots, shredded
6 whole radishes, sliced
6 slices jalapeño peppers, diced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs sugar
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
6 slices bacon
4 crusty French bread rolls, split open
1/2 English cucumber , thinly sliced, lengthwise
4 eggs
Bunch fresh cilantro

Brunch Bacon and Egg Bahn Mi
Preheat broiler.
In medium bowl, toss together carrots, radishes, jalapeños, vinegar, and sugar.
Cook bacon and remove to plate to drain and cool.
Cut into halves.
Arrange bread cut side up on baking sheet.
Drizzle with bacon grease.
Top with salt and pepper.
Broil until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
Top one half of each bread roll with cucumber slices.
Top with bacon halves.
Top with veggie mixture.
Cook eggs in skillet with remaining bacon grease.
Top veggie mixture with eggs.
Top with cilantro.

P to the S…I made this with sausage, since there was no bacon in my fridge. I also spread a bit of ricotta (flavored with fresh lemon juice) and additional veggies on the other side of the bread, just because!

Irish Soda Bread

Bread Irish Soda Bread IIt’s the day to celebrate the Irish, right? So let’s enjoy some Irish Soda Bread, recipe compliments of Bobby Flay…the guy credited with creating everything filled with “flayvor”. This is a simple prep and packed with good-for-you fiber. It’s a dense bread, so I prefer mine toasted crispy and spread with the wonderful orange butter in this recipe, or a dab of cream cheese. The Don likes his drizzled with honey! Any way you like it, it packs a punch. May you go out and find lots of four leafed clovers today; and drink a Guinness (or two) while you’re out there!

Here’s What You’ll Need!
Irish Soda Bread:
3/4 cup golden raisins
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cream of tartar
1/8 t fine sea salt
2 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 Tbs roasted, salted fennel seeds or regular fennel seeds
2 t finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups very cold buttermilk
2 Tbs butter, melted

Buttermilk-Orange Butter:
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
2 t finely grated orange zest
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch sea salt

And Here’s How You Do It!
Place the raisins in a bowl and cover with hot water.
Set aside until softened, about 30 minutes.
Drain and pat dry.
Preheat the oven to 375°.
In large bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, cake flour, semolina flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.
Stir in sugar.
Cut the 3 Tbs butter into the flour until it resembles a coarse meal.
Stir in fennel seeds and raisins.
In a small bowl, stir orange zest into the buttermilk.
Add buttermilk/zest mixture to flour mixture.
Stir with a fork just until a dough comes together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly, until the loose flour is just moistened.
The dough will look shaggy and uneven.
Form the dough into a 6-inch round and place in a 10-inch skillet.
Using a sharp knife, score a deep cross into the top of the loaf.
Bake until nicely browned and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush with the 2 Tbs melted butter.
Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

While the bread bakes, make the buttermilk-orange butter:
Whisk together buttermilk and orange zest in a small bowl.
Put butter and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat until smooth.
Slowly pour in buttermilk mixture and continue beating until just incorporated.
Spread into a ramekin.
Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
Serve slices of warm or toasted soda bread with the orange butter.

Bread Irish Soda Bread II

Raw Dough in the Skillet, Marked with a Cross

Bread Irish Soda Bread III

Ahhh…The Finished Product!

PS…a little history lesson here; just keeping us sharp!
What About The Cross On Top?
Before baking, a cross is traditionally cut on the top of the soda bread loaf with a knife – often said to ward off the devil and to protect the household.
Legend and symbolism aside, there’s a practical reason for the cruciform shape to be cut into the top of the dough. Slashing the dough lets heat penetrate into the thickest part of the bread and allows the bread to stretch and expand as it rises.
Slashing a round loaf with a cruciform shape ends up dividing the bread into quadrants that can be easily broken apart (the breaking of the bread). But, since Ireland is a Catholic country, the symbolism of the cross can also be interpreted as blessing (crossing) the bread and giving thanks.                                                From EatOutEatWell.com

Chicken Tenders, the Homemade Way!

I scream. You scream. Children scream for chicken tenders. Homemade that is. My three grands and another darling two year old all enjoyed these for Sunday brunch at Rock Dam (affectionate name of a fun filled home and kitchen)! Yep three generations gathered strongly; the grandparents of these lucky grands have been friends since ’round about the sixth grade. Nurturing relationships of long standing and building new ones, baby. That’s what we’re doing! Good food, good fun. (I’ll have to feature Gray’s veggie/egg strata soon!) But back to the chicken tenders…Yummy. Let’s just say that I bet you will never rarely serve your child or loved one a processed chicken product again.

Entree Chicken Gurmet Chicken Tenders I

Sautéing in light olive oil. You don’t even want to see an image of my very messy breading station!

1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup fine dried breadcrumbs
Handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 t granulated garlic
1 t dried oregano
Olive oil or vegetable oil, for shallow frying
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (nice culinary term)

Place flour in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper.
In another shallow dish, whisk eggs.
In a third shallow dish, mix panko, cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, granulated garlic and oregano.
In a large, shallow skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium-high.
Coat the chicken in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumb mixture.
When oil begins to ripple, add half the chicken.
Cook until deep golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer to paper towels or wire rack to drain.
Repeat with remaining chicken.

Serve with condiments of choice. I personally like my dripping in honey!

Entree Chicken Gurmet Chicken Tenders II

LayOvers

E02BC053-A894-425B-A41B-0D7417EFB558

A pomegranate cart in Istanbul…one of my favorite sights ever.

Based on my lack of recent posts, it is obvious that my kitchen and I have been in a bit of a noncollaborative mood as of late. But as we all know, nothing changes unless you take charge and make it change. So, I’ve dug deeply searching for inspiration, innovation, and imagination. I hope I’ve once again found it. Stay tuned…here’s to taking a pause in the kitchen as in travels; let’s just call it a layover! But here’s a link to my favorite pomegranate chicken recipe, inspired by my first trip to Istanbul a few years ago!

5CA922AD-2C74-47B9-B892-59852463F312

Our puffy travel faces with the gorgeous Blue Mosque as the main feature.

This very day last year, the don and I (and a couple of very special friends!) were on a three day layover in Istanbul on our way home from a fabulous trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

55FD2758-F0DB-4039-B191-476A1F9534C7

Our fantastic friend and guide Riza, bidding farewell.

C21CD5EB-B130-4A92-BF59-FF901977D326

And Peg departing from the fabulous Four Seasons Sultanahmet (Old City…think Constantinople!)

Quick Fall Mushroom Soup

Soup Quick Mushroom III

It may not feel like it quite yet but the Autumn Equinox in our Northern Hemisphere is at 4:02pm TODAY! So Happy Friday to All. Yay. Here’s a little simple soup to wake up those taste buds. Why enjoy a small serving when you can have it all!

2 Tbs butter
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
6 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 cans (14 oz each) chicken broth
1 cup Half and Half cream
1/3 cup dry sherry
4 springs fresh thyme
1 Tbs fresh chopped thyme for garnish.

In large saucepan, heat butter over medium high heat.
Sauté mushrooms and onions until tender, about 5 minutes.
In separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, pepper, and 1 can chicken broth until smooth.
Stir into mushroom mixture.
Stir in remaining broth.
Bring to boil.
Cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low.
Stir in cream, sherry, and thyme sprigs.
Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove thyme.
Puree with immersion blender in the pot; or transfer to blender and puree.
OR, serve with mushrooms as they are.
Garnish with chopped fresh thyme

Serves 6.