Category Archives: In the Kitchen

New Year with New Recipe — Garlicky Shrimp Scampi

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Happy New Year!! After a whirlwind of traveling and meetings during the holiday season, my schedule is finally calming down for once; it is finally allowing me to sit down to write again after a long hiatus on the blog…. I can’t be happier, this is all I want to do during this chill weekend at the ranch.

Because of all the traveling, I didn’t get to exchange presents with Chris till New Year’s Eve, and guess what I got as one of my presents – cookbooks with 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year!! I love to cook, so I’m very excited about the gift, but how brilliant of him to give me cookbooks? I’d say it’s more of a gift that “keeps on giving” for himself than a gift to me….. well played, I say, well played!

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The cookbooks are “Salad of the Day” and “One Pot of the Day” from Williams Sonoma, they are really awesome in the sense that all the recipes are mapped out according to the seasons, so you get to use to the proper ingredients that are actually in season, and they are all fairly easy and straightforward. Most importantly, they are all practical enough for modern day busy women like me!

Surprised and not surprised, he already picked out recipes that he wants me to make for New Year’s Day – Garlicky Shrimp Scampi. It is a recipe for May, but since we happen to have some fresh shrimp from the market, I decided to give it a go. This is a recipe for 4 people, but we didn’t find any problem finishing the dish with just the two of us…

Garlicky Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients

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1 ½ lb (about 24-28) jumbo shrimp, deveined and peeled with the tails intact

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp Salt

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

12 Tbsp unsalted butter (I only used about 8 tb)

3 cloves garlic (we like garlic, so I doubled it and used 6)

¼ cup dry white wine

grated zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp of lemon juice

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

Direction

1). In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, salt and pepper. Toss the shrimp in the flour mixture to coat evenly, shaking off the excess.

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2). In a large frying pan, heat the 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp to pan and cook, turning occasionally till opaque throughout, about 3 minute. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep it warm on the side.

IMG_29873). Reduce the heat to medium-low, add 2 Tbsp of the butter and the garlic to cook, stirring frequently until the garlic softens and is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, lemon zest and juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute.

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4). Reduce the heat to very low, whisk in the remaining butter, I Tbsp at a time, letting each addition soften into a creamy emulsion before adding more.

5). Return the shrimp to the sauce and mix gently to coat well. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

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Shrimp Scampi is often served over pasta, which makes a very hearty and comforting dish. We didn’t bother to make pasta; we simply served it as it is with some freshly based French baguette – nothing beats tearing apart that crusty bread with the steam still coming out from the soft center and dipping it into the garlicky butter sauce – ahh, need I say more? Pair the dish with a bottle of crisp white wine to cut the grease, it is amazing how simple flavors can bring such high satisfaction!

The amount of butter in this recipe can be a little bit overwhelming for those who want to maintain a healthier lifestyle. To make a lighter version of the dish, use 2 Tbsp to cook the garlic till fragrant, add about 2 Tbsp of flour to the pan and stir constantly till it forms a smooth uniform paste (the so-called white roux). Slowly add the wine, lemon zest and juice and stir constantly to avoid lumpy texture. Instead of another 6-10 Tbsp of butter, use chicken stock instead to finish the following steps. The end product (obviously) won’t be as buttery as the original scampi, but flavors holds up pretty well, and it contains a lot less guilt! Scallop are good with this sauce too, if you want to change things up a little.

We love this recipe, it’s easy enough to make at home after a workday, and it’s a good dish to impress the guests, too, if you like to host dinner parties! I give it a two-thumbs up, what a good way to kick off a new year!! Just got one recipe down from my new cookbooks… 364 recipes to go…. What are we making next?…

Cheers,

Alicia

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Happy New Year!!  After a whirlwind of traveling and meetings during the holiday season, my schedule is finally calming down for once and allowing me to sit down to write again after a long hiatus on the blog…. I can’t be happier, this is all I want to do during this chill weekend at the country house.

Because of all the traveling, I didn’t get to exchange presents with my man till New Year’s Eve, and guess what I got as one of my presents – cookbooks with 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year!! I love to cook, so I’m very excited about the gift, but how brilliant of him to give me cookbooks? I’d say it’s more of a gift that “keeps on giving” for himself than a gift to me….. well played, I say, well played!

FullSizeRender

The cookbooks are “Salad of the Day” and “One Pot…

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Rack of Lamb for Dad

My father was a commercial airline pilot and in the latter years of his career, he routinely flew from his base of operations in Los Angeles (an hour north of where we lived) to Sydney, Australia, and then to Auckland, New Zealand before heading home. Often, my dad would return from these long trips with a white Styrofoam iced cooler under his arm containing a fresh rack of lamb that he purchased in New Zealand immediately prior to boarding the plane. My mom would prepare the lamb for that evening’s dinner, and I remember vividly the whole family eating in virtual silence and awe, mesmerized by the combination of this fresh lamb and my mom’s consistant ability to cook it perfectly. Mom has always been a remarkable cook, but there was something special about this dish.

The date of this post is 18 years ago to the day of my fathers passing, so in his honor, we have decided to feast on a rack of lamb. 

Rack of Lamb for Dad

Serves: 2 / prep & cook time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 rack of lamb (seven or eight cutlets)
  • 2 sprigs (about 2 tbs) of fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • sprinkles of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Fresh rack of lamb.

And fresh ingredients!

Directions:

Rub the rack of lamb with a thin coat of olive oil and place in an oven dish fatty side up. Chop the garlic into coarse chunks and let marinate in a prep bowl holding the remaining olive oil. Strip the rosemary from the stems and finely dice. Next, sprinkle the rosemary over both sides of the rack of lamb along with the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Finally, lightly spoon the olive oil and chopped garlic mixture over the lamb covering as much of the rack as you can with garlic without drowning it in oil. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Seasoned and ready for the oven.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the cooking dish containing the rack in the oven’s center and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes for rare to medium rare temperature (our preference, longer if you prefer more cooked). Remove from the oven, place on a cutting board and cut individual cutlets. Plate and serve!

Done!

Mom’s Black Olive Salsa

It’s the Saturday before the Halloween, we have made some party plans for the evening, but there’s nothing going on in the afternoon. We thought it’d be perfect if we keep it low-key and just invite a couple of neighbors over and watch some college football. We bought some delicious seasonal pumpkin beer the day before, all we needed is a little snack for people to munch on during the game. Chris’s mom has this amazing recipe for black olive salsa, it looks simple, but it has the perfect amount of crunch and saltiness to go with the chips; it’s packed with flavors, and it’s pretty on the eyes, too! This is the perfect occasion for us to recreate this salsa to impress our neighbors!

Mom’s Black Olive Salsa

Serves: 8 / Prep & Cook Time: about 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 8 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 tb of cilantro
  • ½ head of garlic (5 or 6 garlic cloves)
  • 1 can (6 or 7 ounces) of black olives
  • ¼ cup of olives oil
  • 1 small jar of (hot, medium or mild based on your preference) Picante sauce
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • salt (coarse if available) and pepper

Directions:

Dice the tomatoes, removing seeds where possible (it’s not necessary to remove all of the seeds), and place in a large bowl.  Next, finely dice the red onion and cilantro, then add to the tomatoes. Chop the garlic into small chucks and add to the bowl. At this point, pour the olive oil over the mix and lightly salt with ground coarse salt and add a pinch of garlic powder.

While this bowl of deliciousness marries, drain the black olives, chop and add. Pour in the Picante sauce and mix everything together, salt and pepper to taste.

We prefer to cover and cool in the refrigerator for maybe 20 minutes or so before serving.  Serve with tortilla chips of choice.

Baked Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers

The first time we discovered these stuffed peppers was at a friend’s house party. Among all of her amazing homemade hors d’oeuvres, it was these bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeño peppers that were the biggest hit. I mean, spicy jalapeño with salty bacon, and creamy filling? THAT is an amazing combo. I was angry that I didn’t come up with the idea first. These stuffed jalapeños were so delicious but the spiciness creeps up on you. My mouth was on fire but I just couldn’t stop eat them. It didn’t take us too long to recreate this spicy delight. We tweaked the recipe and made our own version and here’s how we made it:

Bake Stuffed Jalapeño Pepper 

Serves: 4 / prep & cook Time: about 30 min

Ingredients:

  • 12 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (gouda cheese works well, too)
  • sprinkles of onion powder (optional)
  • 4-5 slices of prosciutto, cut into bite-size pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

Cut peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds (reserve the seeds if you like your peppers spicy!). Cook the peppers in building water for 5 minutes, if you like it spicy, or cook for 10 minutes for a milder version. Drain well and let it cool.

Boiling the peppers!

Combine the cream cheese, parmesan cheese (or cheese of your choice), onion powder if you’re using it, and the reserved jalapeño seeds if you really want to turn up the heat. Fill the pepper with the cheese mixture and sprinkle the prosciutto bits on the top.

Place the peppers on a lined baking sheet and bake in 400F for 5 to 10 minutes, and broil until the prosciutto turn brown and crisp. 

We didn’t share with anyone this time, we ate them all! But these serve well as party food. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and easy to make ahead of time. Enjoy!

Barbecue Pulled Pork Slider

The first time we made these delicious barbecue pulled pork sliders was at a western-themed cowboy party we threw for our neighbors. It requires quite a lot of work, but the finished product is really finger-licking good and well worth the effort. Today, we made some Kwas’Ne Polish Soup and have some of those flavor-infused slow-cooked pork reserved on the side… it’s a no brainer, we are making pulled pork sliders.

Barbecue Pulled Pork Sliders

Serves: varies (see notes below) / Prep-tme: 45 min

Ingredients

For the Barbecue Sauce: (this makes about 4 cups of sauce)

  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)

For the Slider: (we are only preparing for two this time)

  • 4 Small buns for dinner rolls
  • about 2 cups of slow-cooked pull pork
  • toppings such as sliced onions and pickles

Directions:

Combine the onion, garlic, and whiskey in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, simmer until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Mix in the ground black pepper, salt, ketchup, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce brown sugar, and hot sauce (if you’re using it).

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. We blended the sauce with a handheld blender for a smoother consistency. You can also run the sauce through a strainer to achieve the same texture, or just leave it as is. This recipe makes a big batch of sauce.

Scoop the sauce over the pulled pork and mix until all of the pork is coated evenly. Layer the pulled pork, onion, and pickles on the dinner rolls, and you have your homemade barbecue pulled pork sliders!

Kwas ‘Ne Polish Soup

It is a cold and rainy Saturday and some friends are planning to stop by later for a glass of wine.  What better reason than to make a large pot of mom’s Polish Kwas ‘Ne (pronounced VASH-nuh, at least in our household).  Although we’ve never come across this recipe in cookbooks or even online, it’s been in the family for years (note to our readers: you might’ve figured out that one of us is Taiwanese; the other has strong Polish roots and grew up eating this soup).

Some have referred to this recipe as “sweet and sour soup”, and my five year old niece calls it “pickled soup” (most likely from the vinegar added at the end).  Whatever you call it, this makes for a fantastic and hearty meal that is always a hit with first-timers, and reheats well even after being frozen (so freeze whatever you don’t eat!).

Kwas ‘Ne Polish Soup

Serves 10 / Prep & Cook Time: about 4 hours

Ingredients:

  • peppercorns
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 1 pork shoulder or other ham bone (about three to four pounds)
  • 1 five-pound bag of brown potatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup of vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cut a two inch by two inch piece of cheesecloth, fill it with peppercorns and coarse salt and, using excess threat from the cheesecloth, tie into a ball.  Throw this into a large pot of salted water. Dice the large onion and add to pot along with the pork shoulder or other ham bone.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for at least three and a half hours.

 While the spices, onions and pork simmer (and create a heavenly smell in your kitchen), peel the potatoes, cut them into eighths and then store in a bowl of cold water.

After about three and a half hours or so, test the pork with a fork to see if it’ll fall of the bone with little resistance.  If so, remove the entire pork shoulder from the broth and place on a cutting board.  At this point, drain the potatoes from the cold water, add to the broth, bring to a boil and then simmer.

Clean the pork off of the bone and remove the fat, then shred into manageable pieces and salt.  Once the potatoes are cooked through (about the time you are finished preparing the meat), add about half of the now shredded and salted pork into the pot (the other half can be used for anything else you desire including pulled pork sliders, spicy pork tacos, a filling for an omelet, etc.).

With the onions, potatoes and pork now waltzing together in the broth, bring to a full boil once again.  At boil, crack and beat six eggs into the soup and then reduce heat.

Cracking in the eggs.

Add salt and the vinegar and you are ready to serve!

Chinese Dumpling Soup

Remember the delicious Homemade Chinese Dumplings we made!? We were so excited about our final product that we cooked them TWO separate ways in one meal. First, we pan-fried the dumplings to make delicious pot-stickers. And second, rather than boiling them and eating them straight, we cooked them in a home-made broth and made a dumpling soup. The  crisp Fall weather is here so it’s about the right time to for some soup dishes. Don’t underestimate this clear broth base, the ginger in this soup brings an additional layer of warming sensations and it is unexpectedly flavorful and comforting. And believe it or not, it’s probably pretty good for you too!

Chinese Dumpling Soup

Serves 2 / prep and cook time: 20 min

Ingredients:

  • 12 Chinese dumplings (frozen ones will work, too!)
  • 4 cups chicken or mushroom broth
  • 1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into match sticks
  • 3 spring onions, cut into 2-inches pieces, both white and green parts
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, cut into thin strips (We used a mixture of fresh and dried shiitake mushrooms)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tb Chinese cooking wine or sake
  • 1 tb white wine vinegar (or Chinese dark vinegar if you have it)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

Put the chicken broth, ginger, mushroom, soy sauce, cooking wine, vinegar and sesame oil into a soup pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the spring onions and adjust the heat so the broth simmers, about 10 to 15 minutes. Slowly add the dumplings into the broth, give a little stir so the dumplings don’t stick together. Cook for about 3 minutes. When the dumplings float up to the surface, cook for another 6 minutes. They are done when the skin in translucent. Divide among warm bowls and serve.

We made 6 dumpling per serving as a side dish but you’re more than welcome to add more dumplings and turn it into a main dish. We also were running low on vegetables when we made it, but this broth goes well with almost all vegetables, such as napa cabbage, broccoli, spinach, snow peas…. you name it. Throw in some greens right before you drop in the dumplings, it’ll only make the soup healthier, and of course, better tasting!!!

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