Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shrimp with Artichokes and Asparagus by guest blogger, Paul G.

Paul G's Shrimp with Artichokes and Asparagus over Linguini

Please welcome a new guest blogger, Paul G.  I can't wait to try his recipe.  Thank you so much for taking the time to write up the recipe, Paul!

Hi Barb,

Attached is my recipe (and photo) for Shrimp with Artichokes & Asparagus.  I often make the artichokes and asparagus for me and Donna, and sometimes I make just the shrimp. We love both dishes so I got the bright idea of combining the two. It seemed to work so that's where this recipe came from. 

Originally, the artichokes & asparagus is just something I whipped up because we like artichokes, and asparagus, and olive oil, and garlic. But the shrimp was something that I tried to copy from Ripa's Restaurant in my hometown of Lancaster, NY. 

Many, many years ago (like 40 years) I had their baked & stuffed shrimp that was stuffed with seasoned bread crumbs or flakes . I thought that was the best shrimp I ever had.  I wanted to make shrimp as tasty as that so I gave it a shot. My version is fried and not baked so it's different than Ripa's but the seasoned bread crumbs seem to be the ingredient that really gives the shrimp great flavor provided you have the right kind of shrimp.

It’s important to use wild-caught shrimp as they have the best taste & texture.

Paul G's Shrimp with Artichokes & Asparagus

   -3 eggs
  - 1 lb linguine
   - 1 bunch asparagus
   - 1 ½ lbs of wild caught med-large shrimp*  from Wegman’s
   -   3/4 cup Wegmans Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
   - ½ cup canola oil
      -14oz can of quartered artichoke hearts
    -  6 to 8 garlic cloves
   - 3/4 cup of  extra virgin oil
   -  ½  teaspoon of salt

  - 2 large skillets
  - 1 small saucepan
  - large bowl
  - 1 large pot (for boiling linguine)
  - shallow bowl
 - 3 dinner plates

1. Remove shells from shrimp. De-vein if necessary.  Pat dry.
2. Place bread crumbs on a dinner plate.  In a shallow bowl beat 3 egg whites until smooth. Dip shrimp in egg whites.  Then roll shrimp in the bread crumbs and liberally coat the shrimp.
 Place coated shrimp on a dinner plate for later use.
3.  Cook linguine per box directions.  Drain well.  Place in large bowl and keep warm. (Note: while the water is boiling you can start on step 4)
4. Cut asparagus into 2" pieces.  Put asparagus in a large skillet and add ½ cup of water. Heat on medium.   Cover skillet and cook/steam asparagus for 8-10 minutes.  Then drain the can of artichoke hearts and add the artichokes to the skillet.  Cover the skillet and steam..  Add water as needed to make steam.
5.  Peel and mince garlic. In a small sauce pan heat olive until very warm.  Add garlic to olive oil and simmer.
6. In a  large skillet add the canola oil.  Heat to below smoking point.  Slowly add the shrimp.  Put enough shrimp to fill the bottom of the pan but keep some separation between shrimp.  Cook until the side down is golden brown... about 3 minutes.  Flip shrimp over and cook until the side down golden brown.  When done transfer shrimp to a dinner plate with paper towels to absorb the oil.  Cover shrimp to keep warm.
7. To the bowl with linguine add the artichokes, asparagus, and salt. Mix well while adding the olive oil & garlic.  Lastly,  add the shrimp and mix a little bit more.
* It’s important to use wild-caught shrimp as they have the best taste & texture

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Old Favorite

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Got a call from a friend who remembered my curried pumpkin soup.  He wanted to make it for his wife and himself.  So, I introduced him to the blog, and the recipe index on the home page, so he could look it up.

I love being able to look up Feast Everyday recipes online now.  The recipe index comes in handy, especially when I am in the grocery store and can't remember all of the ingredients for something I want to make.

It happened today, when I realized that this soup would taste so good today -- it is cold and rainy and miserable.  So, I came home and just finished making it.  It doesn't take long at all.  However, it is important to cook the base for a full five minutes to develop the flavors.  Today I cut the butter in the recipe in half and it still turned out well. 

For the recipe, click here:  Curried Pumpkin Soup, or go to the Recipe Index tab at the top of the home page, and page down until you find it under Soup of the Week.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Francesca's and "Big Pussy" from the Sopranos

Francesca's in Syracuse

On a rainy night last week, we discovered Francesca's in Syracuse, a restaurant which looks like it is stuck in time.

It serves excellent classic Italian food.  Trip Advisor did not steer us wrong.  It is listed as No. 1 in Syracuse.

We arrived late at night, so we did not have to wait, but we hear you usually do.  It is a small place and very noisy, but charming in a gritty way.  The staff is very attentive.  We had the meatball appetizer, which was ridiculously big for $7, and very good.  And fish entrees.  Both very good.

Tom commented that he thought the guy who sat down at the table next to us looked like he was in mob.  He was --sort of.  It was Vincent Pastore who played "Big Pussy" in The Sopranos.  He was in town for a film festival.

We have already made plans to go again with friends when we go back to Syracuse.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and A Side of Cupcakes

Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Maple Sugar Sprinkles

Tom also wanted carrot cake for his birthday, no surprise. It is his favorite cake. He likes it with nuts and coconut and cream cheese frosting. 

This year I wanted to try to make the cake a little less decadent, so I started with a Cooking Light recipe to give myself an idea for how to cut back on the eggs and the fat.  But, I stressed myself out, too, by downsizing the cake so I could make some cupcakes to go with our friend's recovery meal.  It all worked out in the end, but I was wondering why in the world I was taking this much risk without trying it out first.  Pans were everywhere and my nerves were frayed but I pulled it off, thank goodness!

Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Cooking Light Everyday Favorites

9 T. butter, softened
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 t. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 small can of crushed pineapple, well drained
2 cups finely shredded carrots
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup broken pecans
1/3 cup raisins

1 small package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1 T. maple sugar sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I was making an 8 x 8 square cake for Tom and a side of cupcakes to deliver to a friend, but the recipe called for a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.  Spray with cooking spray; and line bottom of pan with parchment paper, or wax paper.  Coat again with cooking spray and set aside.

Place butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat until well blended.  Add eggs and egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients:  flour, baking soda, cinnamon and 1/4 t. salt, and stir with a whisk. 

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, mixing after each addition. 
Stir in carrots, coconut, raisins and nuts until evenly distributed.

Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350 until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cupcakes took 20 - 22 minutes.  The 8 x 8 pan took 40 minutes.  The recipe says a 13 x 9 would take 30 minutes.  It also says to be sure to turn the oven down to 325 degrees if you use glass.

Cool thoroughly before frosting.

To prepare the frosting, place cream cheese, butter and vanilla and salt in a big bowl and beat until smooth.  Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar beating at low speed -- do not over beat -- until smooth. 

Spread frosting over cake, and garnish with maple sugar crystals.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mrs. King's Lasagne for Tom's Birthday and a Friend

Mrs. King's Lasagne

For Tom's birthday this year, he requested lasagne.  So, I pulled out an old favorite: Mrs. King's lasagne. 

In Texas, I used to babysit for the Kings when I was a teenager. Keith King and my dad were friends through work.  I can't remember their son's name right now but he was a nice kid. They had one of those groovy 60's suburban houses that are now popular.  In contrast, ours was decorated in an Americana-look due to our parents' conservative Pennsylvania roots. So I was kind of in awe of Mrs. King.  Pat King gave my mom this recipe and it is how I first learned to make lasagne.  It uses cottage cheese instead of ricotta.  It is simple but surprisingly good.

Mrs. King's Lasagne 
Serves 6 to 8
1/2 lb. lasagne noodles
2 T. cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef (I used beef, pork and veal mix)
2 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. basil/rosemary
1 1/2 cups water
2 6 ounce cans of tomato paste
2 eggs, beaten
1 pt. cottage cheese
1 T. minced parsley
1/2 lb. mozzarella, shredded or sliced
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

Cook noodles as directed and drain. 

Heat oil in skillet, cook garlic and onion until soft.  Add meat and seasoning and cook until crumbly. 
Add tomato paste and hot water.  Simmer 5 minutes or so and set aside. 

Blend beaten eggs with cottage cheese in bowl.  Add parsley and stir to mix. 

In a baking dish (9x13x2) -- but I was giving half of Tom's birthday meal to a friend who has recently had surgery, so divided the recipe into two 8x8 baking dishes -- put a thin layer of meat sauce, half the noodles, all the cottage cheese ...  This is where the recipe stops because I have lost the second card over the years.  So, I just put a third of the remaining meat sauce on top, then another layer of noodles, more meat sauce,
half the mozzarella, another layer of noodles, the remaining meat sauce, the remaining mozzarella --

I ran out of sauce and cheese, so I opened a jar of Paul Newman's basil and tomato sauce, and cut up fresh mozzarella ---
and top it with the Parmesan cheese.

Here are some cooking tips I used when cooking the recipe.  Salt along the way, instead of all at once like the recipe says.  I add a pinch when I start the onions, and keep adding and tasting throughout the course of cooking the sauce, so it doesn't end up over salted.

Add your garlic well after the onions have started cooking so you don't burn your garlic.

A ground meat mix of beef, pork and veal makes a creamier, richer meat sauce than straight beef.  Be sure to buy lean beef or drain off some of the fat.

I use basil only, and skip the rosemary.  And use lots of basil so the flavor really comes through in the sauce.
Serve it with a nice salad.  I made the Arugula Salad with Shaved Grana Padama.  

One to deliver

And one for us. 

If you have never made lasagne before, this would be a good recipe to try.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hot Apple Crisp with Vanilla Caramel Ice Cream

Hot Apple Crisp with Vanilla Caramel Ice Cream

Apples are at their peak right now, so what better time to make an apple crisp.  I chose Cortland apples which are delicious and hold up well in cooking, but you can use whatever you like or have on hand.

The filling is made with cinnamon and sugar; a little lemon to brighten the fruit; and, a little flour to thicken the juice.  The topping is made with oats, brown sugar, more cinnamon, nuts and a little butter.

I used almonds for my nuts, and added a handful of currants before putting the topping on.  You can vary the ingredients to suit your own tastes.

Apple Crisp

Makes a 2  quart casserole

You will need:
2 lbs of apples (~4 large)
lemon juice, ~ 2 T.
flour, ~ 3 T.
cinnamon, ~ 2 t.
sugar, ~ 3/4 cup
oat meal, ~ 1 cup
brown sugar, ~ 1/3 cup
nuts, ~ 1/3 cup
butter, ~ 2 - 3 T., cut into small cubes
other fruit, like raisins or currants, optional, a handful

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Peel, core and cut your apples into slices.  Drizzle the apples with lemon juice, then sprinkle flour, sugar, and cinnamon all over, and toss to coat.  Transfer to a 2 quart casserole.  If you are adding dried fruit, sprinkle the raisins or currants over the top now.  In a separate bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and the cubed butter.  Rub the mixture together in your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed.  Cover the apples with a single layer of the topping.

Bake in the oven for approximately one hour, until the juices are bubbling and topping is golden.

Serve hot, with or without ice cream.  Both ways it is delicious!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Did You Guess Quince?


The answer to yesterday's fruit question was Quince. 

I will readily admit that I had no idea when I first saw it.  I thought it was perhaps a crab apple.  But when you smell it, the fruit is fragrant.  Like a gardenia or an exotic tropical fruit.

We googled it and found out that it isn't well known in the US, but it is used a lot in the Middle East today, and it was often used in jams and jellies in English cookery.

There are some theories that it was the quince, not the apple, in the Garden of Eden. 

So, when I got home, I did a little recipe research.  I went to some of my go-to cookbook authors:  Alice Waters and James Beard, as well as some of my more historical cookbooks, like the Maine Cookbook. 

Turns out there are alot of quince recipes out there.  You cook it for a long time, and  do not eat it raw.  So, I will look for quince on the jams and jellies shelves.  Apparently it turns a lovely red color. Maybe I can find someone who grows quince to eat.  It would be fun to try.

If anyone has cooked with quince, or has a recipe to share, please do!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Do You Know What Fall Fruit This Is?

Do you know what fall fruit this is?

On this beautiful fall day today, Sarah showed me a fruit she had discovered in her backyard in Buffalo where the plantings are quite old.   Hint: It is a good word to use when playing Scrabble or Bananagrams.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rainy Day Chili by Tom

Rainy Day Chili by Tom

Although the title of this blog entry is "Rainy Day Chili", as I am writing this, it is one of those perfect fall afternoons.  Warm, bright and sunny!  A little incongruous with my titled recipe.  But with that said, I actually did make this during the major rainfalls we had last week associated with Hurricane Nicole, which made herself felt in our region by dumping many inches of rain.

As with many of the recipes that I make, I almost never make them the same way twice.  This is especially true with chili.  Chili falls into the category of whatever is in the cupboard and the refrigerator can probably be used as an ingredient in chili.  This was especially true with this version.  But like my other versions, this chili turned out to be delicious and perfectly suited to the weather we were experiencing.

 The Ingredients:  this will make about 8-10 servings

   1 lb lean ground beef
   1 lb lean pork, veal and beef mixture - actually any meat will do
   1 tablespoon cooking oil
   1 red onion, chopped
   1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
   1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
   2-3 jalapeno or other hot peppers, seeded and chopped (adjust this based on the degree of heat you  like)
   2 tablespoons chopped garlic
   Handful (about a dozen) baby carrots, coarsely chopped
   1 jar of prepared pasta sauce - I used Paul Newman's Tomato & Basil (this is a good example of not having what I would normally use, which is a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes.  So I improvised!  Whatever is in the pantry.)
   1 bottle of beer - a secret ingredient
   3 tablespoons chili powder (I actually used a Turkish seasoning that we bought at Penzey's.  It smelled good to me, so I thought I would try it.  It worked!)
   1 tablespoon cumin powder
   1 teaspoon salt
   1 teaspoon black pepper
   2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa - a secret ingredient, a la Mexican mole
   1 can of low-salt chicken broth
   ~2 cups water
   1 can dark kidney beans
   1 can butter beans
   1 can black beans
   2 tablespoons corn starch and enough water to make a paste for thickening (optional)

You can literally add any other vegetable that you like or have on hand.  That is the beauty of chili.  Virtually anything can go into the pot.

 Cut up the red onion into large chunks.

 Do the same with the red pepper after removing the seeds.

Here you can see how I chopped the carrots.  I kept the pieces rather large ~1/2 inch.  Believe it or not, after cooking for about 3 hours, they were still a bit crunchy.

Brown the meat in a large skillet with a little cooking oil.

 When there is still a little pink left, it is done.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meat to a large cooking pot.  Keep as much of the liquid in the pan as possible, as that will be used to saute the vegetables.

 Add all of the vegetables except the garlic to the large skillet, and cook them for about 10 minutes stirring frequently.  If you find that there is too much liquid in the pan, carefully pour some of the excess liquid out of the pan.  You are trying to saute the vegetables versus steaming them.  With one minute to go, add the chopped garlic.

With the slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to the large pot where you had previously transferred the browned meat.

Here are my two "secret ingredients" that add to the overall taste of the chili.  Beer brings out the full flavor of the chili powder and cumin powder.  I used a dark beer and that adds a bit of flavor itself.  Cocoa adds a deeper taste dimension to the chili.  Think Mexican mole, which relies on chocolate, to add flavors to many traditional Mexican dishes - not found at Taco Bell!

 Here was my substitute for crushed tomatoes.  I had never used a pasta sauce in chili before, but I will now.  I found this was a great substitute in place of the crushed tomatoes.  Maybe it was the basil that added a new dimension to the taste of this chili.

 Once all of the meat and vegetables are in the pot, it is time to start adding everything else.  Start with the tomato sauce.  Then add the beer and chicken stock.  Hold off on adding the water for a little while.

Now add all of the dry ingredients.

Stir it all up and add water to get to a desired consistency.  If you like really thick chili, then you do not need to add any water at all.   Taste the chili at this point to determine if you need to adjust any of the spices. For example, I found the Turkisk seasoning was not as strong as the regular chili powder that I use, so I added a another teaspoon or so of regular chili powder. Bring to a boil, and then turn the mixture way down to just a simmer.  Cover the pot and walk away for at least an hour.

When there is about an hour before you are going to eat, add the beans and stir them in.  You really do not need to cook them.  You are just warming them up.  Because the mixture was on a very low heat, I added the beans with an hour to go.

 This is an optional thickening step:  place two tablespoons of corn starch in a small bowl.  Add water to dissolve the corn starch.  You can also use flour.

Pour the corn starch mixture into the chili and stir it in completely.  You will notice the color gets a little lighter with the addition of the corn starch.  Cook this for at least another 20 minutes.

Ladle the chili into a festive bowl, and dig in!  This chili tastes good with a beer to drink as well.  Store leftover chili in the refrigerator.  This is a recipe which tastes as good the next day.  Enjoy!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Chocolate Espresso Cake by Chris S.

Chris's Chocolate Espresso Rum Cheesecake

Thanks for contributing your delicious dessert recipe, Chris! 

Chocolate Espresso Rum Cheesecake

3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
½ c. blanched and toasted hazelnuts
2 T. sugar
8 T. unsalted butter, melted
4 oz. semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 375. Place nuts and sugar in food processor and process until fine. Add to crumbs. Add butter and stir to mix.

Butter a 9" springform. Turn crust into pan and distribute evenly. Press down firmly. Bake for 8 mins. Cool.

Place pan in freezer. Melt chocolate and spread it over cold crust stopping ¼ " from edge.

1 lb. semisweet chocolate
1 ½ c. heavy cream
3 T. cocoa
3 T. instant espresso powder
1/4 t. salt
¼ c. dark rum
4 eggs
2 lbs. cream cheese
1 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Melt chocolate and set aside.

Scald ½ c. cream. Strain in cocoa, espresso, and salt. Whisk till smooth.

Cook for a few minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the rum and remaining cream. Set aside.

In a small bowl beat the eggs lightly just to mix and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the cheese until it is completely soft and smooth. Add sugar and beat till perfectly smooth. Add chocolate and then cream mixture and finally eggs. Turn the mixture into the pan.

Wrap the springform in a double layer of heavy duty foil and place in pan of hot water. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off heat and let cake stand for another hour with door closed. Let cool several hours and chill.

Plate cake and top with thin layer of seedless raspberry jam. Garnish with raspberries. Cut with hot knife.