Oven Baked Shrimp Boil

This is a terrific, easy to prep dinner for a full house of actual PEOPLE over the Fourth of July Holiday. So take a quick peek here and “up” your kitchen success, while sparking extra joy. I’m totally thrilled to be seeing my family (on the regular now) and friends (cautiously) in the flesh, after admittedly being emotionally paralyzed with Covid Fear. But there are also some wonderful lessons learned and accomplishments achieved during Quarantine that will be part of my life forever, thanks to guidance from a trusted life coach, and an organizer unparalleled! So go out there, have some fun, celebrate America, eat good food, and most importantly relish the joy of human interaction…hugs optional…

1 lb Baby Dutch yellow small potatoes
4 ears corn, cut into halves or thirds
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced in half lengthwise, then into 2 inch sections
Stick of butter, melted
8 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 lbs large cleaned shrimp
2 heaping Tbs Old Bay seasoning (I prefer blackened)
8 oz pilsner beer

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Microwave potatoes on plate 4 1/2 minutes.
Place corn, standing on ends, in baking pan.
Add potatoes and sausage (cut side down).
Drizzle with half melted butter, half lemon juice, thyme, and garlic.
Place lemon wedges on pan.
Bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Make pouch of aluminum foil.
Add shrimp, Old Bay, lemon zest, remaining lemon juice, remaining butter, and beer.
Bunch foil together at top.
Place in center of baking pan.
Return to oven and roast 15 more minutes.
Remove from oven.
Empty shrimp and juices onto sheet pan.
Turn corn on side to absorb juices.
Return to oven for 5 minutes.

Serves 6 with a side of salad. 

Mahi: Part Two

As evidenced above, a few years back I had the joy of a fly fishing experience with Carl in the Dan River Gorge on the Primland property. That had been on my Whistle List for years, and I checked it right off that weekend! Now that’s not fishing for Mahi, duh; but it earned a gold medal for fun times with fab friends.

Flashing back even further in time to a second take on Mahi prep…in the manner of NOLA chef Paul Prudhomme (God Rest His Soul), I present a blackened version of Mahi. A quick story; in the late 1990’s while dining at K Paul’s for the first time, I spent most of the evening away from the dinner table, outside peering into the tiny screened-in kitchen where the fish were being prepared. The kindest chefs ever (heavily sweating and constantly wiping their brows in the heat of that tiny, tiny, tiny room) told me everything that they were doing. Bronzed fish, blackened fish, sautéed fish, panned in butter fish, poached fish, grilled fish, and on and on and on again. I was forever grateful to those lovely gentlemen and forever enthralled with the cuisine and techniques of Chef Paul and his style of cooking there on the great waters of N’awlins. This is total happiness, so pay attention…I’ll take Mahi Recipes for Five Hundred Please!
Thank you Hank Williams for these beautiful words:
“The fairest young maiden that I ever saw
Passed by as it started to rain
We both found a shelter beneath the same tree
On the banks of the old Pontchartrain.”

Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Fish
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbs good olive oil
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t fresh black pepper
3 t Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic
2  6 oz filets of mahi (or other thick white fish of choice)
Filets should be 1 to 1 1/2″ thick

Place filets on a plate.
Pour 1/2 of the melted butter on top side of the filets.
Sprinkle filets with salt, pepper, and 1/2 of the Blackened Redfish Magic.
Turn filets over in plate and repeat with butter, salt, pepper, and Blackened Magic.
Heat skillet on high.
Pour the 3 Tbs olive oil into skillet.
Place filets in skillet and turn heat to medium high.
Cook 3 minutes uncovered. 
Turn to other side and cook 3 more minutes.

I hope you didn’t give up seafood for Lent! Come on in with an empty tummy. Experience just the right amount of heat and your heart will say “don’t take me back to the real world!”

Cinnamon Elephant Ears

 

I had a special pajama clad helper in the kitchen one Sunday morning recently. No makeup, hair unbrushed…but it was magically delicious! I always thought these “elephant ears” were a short cut from a French pastry. Contrarily, my research revealed that it’s adapted from the Native Americans’ “sweet fry bread”…Either way, it’s quick, delicious, and this little three year old did most of it on his own!
A job opportunity awaits!

1 cup sugar, divided
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and salt.
Pour it over a flat surface such as a wooden board.
Unfold the sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar mixture.

 

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and the cinnamon.
Spread it evenly on the puff pastry.
(This is not about sprinkling, it’s about an even covering of sugar.)
With a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough until it’s a 13-inch square and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry on top and bottom.
Fold the sides of the square toward the center so they go halfway to the middle.
Fold them again so the two folds meet in the middle.
Then fold one half over the other half as though closing a book.
You will have 6 layers.
Slice the dough into 3/8-inch slices.
Place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake the cookies for 6 minutes, or until caramelized and brown on the bottom.
Then turn over with a spatula and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until caramelized on the other side.
Transfer to a baking rack to cool.
Brunch Elephant Ears VI

Freezing Fresh Corn

The very best thing on earth after the corn season is over is fresh Silver Queen sweet corn during the winter. So I’m going to teach you the easy peasy way to stock your freezer. I use it all fall and winter in soups, stews, and as a side starch for dinner.  I froze 2 bushels this past weekend, which made 30 quart bags. So to break it down for the less ambitious, 42 ears of corn will make 8 quart sized bags, just half filled, so that they lay flat to freeze. Yummy…So, step by step, here you go.

Freezing Corn I

Bring large pot of water to boil. Drop ears of corn in. Blanch 2 1/2 minutes.

Freezing Corn II

Using tongs, transfer cooked ears of corn to ice bath for 3 minutes to stop cooking process and cool corn. (Make an ice bath by filling sink partially with cold water, and adding ice.)

Freezing Corn III

Remove ears of corn from ice bath and place on kitchen towels to dry for 10 minutes.

Freezing Corn IV

Remove kernels from cob. I find this easiest to stand an ear on the raised part of a bundt pan, letting the kernels collect in the pan.

Freezing Corn V

I use quart size freezer bags to freeze. I fill each bag about half way, so that I can then press all air out of bags and lay them flat to freeze.

PostScript…you have about 3 weeks left here in ENC to secure your Silver Queen corn and get it frozen! Post to the PostScript…It took me two hours to process 42 ears of corn and get it in the freezer. I used 2 pots of boiling water and each held 8 ears of corn at a time.

Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

the don…It’s supposed to get cold and maybe even snow this weekend. I’ll go to the grocery if you’ll whip up a pot of that yummy chicken rice soup for the grands and me! My happy reply…dealeo! I’m here as the CFO (Chief Female Officer) of Forest Hills just helping to Empower Your Culinary Dreams, while offering a little nod to International Women’s Day.

soup-cream-of-chicken-and-wild-rice

Here’s What You’ll Need:
1 Tbs olive oil
4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
5 stalks celery, sliced
5 carrots, sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 bay leaves
1 t chopped dill
1 t celery seed
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup quick cooking wild rice
Breast meat of rotisserie chicken, chopped
Cup fat free sour cream
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

And Here’s How You Do It:
Heat oil in soup pot.
Add mushrooms, celery, carrots, and onion.
Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add flour, and all other seasonings and stir until incorporated, about a minute.
Add broth, and bring to a boil.
Add rice, and reduce to simmer.
Cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in chicken, sour cream, and parsley.
Cook on medium 5 minutes, stirring half way through time.
Turn heat off, leaving pot on hot eye.
Stir again, and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adapted from Cooking Light.
Serves 6.
380 calories for 2 cup serving.

Ahhh…Primland, Entry #3, finale!

Dinner IOur last evening at Primland was completely over the top. We were in the kitchen, yes right in the kitchen with Chef Gunnar and his staff. They prepared a phenomenal dinner with amazing wine flights. It began with a perfectly crisp champagne and an “Amuse” of oyster with diced jicama on the half shell. Now i simply don’t tolerate oysters, no matter the prep method; so it must’ve been the atmosphere or the fact that Rick made me do it, but I tossed it right down the hatch. Now I’ll probably never have another one as no oyster in the world could ever be that sweet or tender, much to my total amazement. My man Gunner has a secret! Next came a bite of Dinner II champagneCarolina Black Bass, then Wild Nettle Soup, followed by Seared Duck Breast, then Roasted Loin of Border Springs Lamb.  Uh huh…it goes on. From there was a Limestone Lettuce with Bing Cherry Conserve, Primland Strawberries Napoleon and then Chef capped it all off with a showstopping dessert of Nitro Frozen Milk Chocolate Mousse. Count that…eight courses, but Dinner IV cheershonestly only a taste or two per course. I promise, we aren’t gluttons. or ?  PS…apparently our sommelier can only “sommel”, as the group photos he took attempted to take of us are just a big, blurry mess! Ahhh…Primland, take me back.Dinner VI dessert

Weekend Margarita!

It is F.R.I.D.A.Y. Get your cocktail on!

Gray and Marc made this cocktail last year during our family Thanksgiving/FauxChristmas week in Greenville and I have been sipping it ever since. Note please that Liam most ably assisted with the guacamole creation that evening!  It was Friday night after ECU demolished their football opponent, where Auntie taught Liam to say Go Pirates…Arrrrrgh!

Appetizer Gray's Margarita

1 12-oz can frozen limeade
2 cups tequila
2 cups Diet Sprite
2 cups Corona Light Beer

Stir and serve over crushed ice.

*Note: Now that I’m almost 60 (well, two more years but I’m just saying…), a Margarita will occasionally kickoff that sinking heartburn feeling. This recipe has just the exact amount of tartness, and the beer calms the whole drink down. But, be careful; it can sneak up and bite you!  Chips and guac anyone?Liam Marc Guac

Sunday Funday, Champagne and Cooking

Champs and art in window-Here is that kitchen window sill again!  It is dreary outside on this Palm Sunday afternoon in ENC, but it is bright and sunny in my kitchen.  I am armed with ample goods from a Sam’s Club stop after church this morning.  So, champagne in hand I am cooking for my nephew who is in MBA school in Georgia.  I will be seeing him next weekend, so I decided to make a couple of things for his freezer.  He is certainly not anticipating that I will arrive with a stocked cooler, so I can’t wait to witness that huge grin of his!  I’ll try to capture it and add it to this post after next weekend!!  To energize myself for the marathon cooking afternoon I first made myself one of my fav sandwiches…the Bleu Cheese Veggie.

Kitchen Window Sill Flowers

I live in a house that was built in 1952.  Alas, last spring we replaced all of the inefficient windows that leaked the cooled and heated air from the inside to the outside…and allowed in the cool and hot air from the outside.  So in the kitchen I had installed a 6 inch window sill above the sink rather that the standard 2 1/2 inch sill.  This allows space for flowers, knick knacks, coffee mugs, and perhaps most importantly a champagne glass while cooking!  I spend a LOT of time in my kitchen and want it to be a happy place with fresh flowers and a sunny outlook. Here is a simple example of a window sill “still life” in my kitchen home.

Roses on window sill

Appetizers as Dinner

Serving several appetizers, enough to qualify as dinner, is one of my favorite manners of entertaining.  And I enjoy it even more when no plate is necessary.  That way you can hold your drink, hold a conversation, and nibble throughout the evening.  So, as you venture through the blog, you are likely to see a plethora of appetizers, and small dribbles of entrees etc.  Also, I always keep a tray with something wonderful in the kitchen as there is always a crowd gathered there!

Simple Kitchen hors doeuvres