Category Archives: Appetizers/Starters

Golden Shrimp with Peach Bang Bang Chili Sauce

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Cheesy Cauliflower Dippers

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Photo Credit: Super Health Kids, 2014.

Cauliflower is kind of a rockstar when it comes to eating well. Not only is it a delicious side veggie to include with dinners or a great veggie to serve raw on a veggie platter; it can also turn many of your favorite guilty pleasure foods into healthier, but still tasty, options. This idea from Super Healthy Kids is another great way for cauliflower to shine as a snack or meal. Check it out.

Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided in half
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 ° F.

Rinse a head of cauliflower thoroughly. Then, roughly chop. Put chopped cauliflower into the food processor until it has broken down into very fine bits.

Heat an inch of water in a pot until it boils. Put the cauliflower mixture into the water and steam for 4-5 minutes. Cover with a lid while it cooks, but be sure to keep an eye on it so the water doesn’t boil over.

Once steamed, put cauliflower through a fine mesh strainer to drain the water. Use a spoon to squeeze as much water out as you can. Then, use a clean dry towel to squeeze out the rest of the extra water. Be careful though – water will be hot!

Combine cauliflower with the rest of your ingredients (using half the mozzarella and none of the Parmesan). Mix until well combined.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Spoon cauliflower mixture onto parchment paper and form a kind of “loaf” with your hands – recipe should form a rectangle that’s about 8 1/2″ x 11″.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake for another 10 or so minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Remove from oven, slice and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

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Sopa seca de Fideo y Camarones

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Fideos (vermicelli) are much loved in Mexico, where they form the basis of thick, delicious soups. Usually the soups are served as a first course, but our hearty shrimp version is a meal in a bowl.

The name “sopa seca de fideo” translates to “dry soup with noodles”. It’s not soup, it’s called a “dry soup” because the noodles absorb all of the wonderful rich stock, making the noodles taste more delicious than you can possibly imagine.

Although it can be made with straight noodles, I have found if easier to make fideo with the twirled angel hair nests. It’s pretty, and easier to serve that way, one nest per individual  serving.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 dried ancho or pasilla chiles*
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. dried angel hair nests or vemicelli
1/4 cup olive  oil
One medium yellow onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1/2 cup crushed canned tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 quart chicken broth
1 pound (30 to 35 per lb.) peeled, deveined shrimp, tails left intact
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

For Serving:
1/2 cup sour cream
Queso Fresco
Diced avocado

Directions:
Break stems off chiles and shake out seeds. In a small bowl, cover chiles with hot water and let stand until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop.

Brown the angle hair nests: Choose a frying pan with a lid in which the angel hair nests will all tightly fit in a single layer (about 9 or 10-inches wide, depending on the brand of angel hair nests you use). In the pan, heat the oil until shimmering hot. Working in batches, fry the vermicelli angel hair nests on both sides in the hot oil until golden brown in color. Remove from pan.

Sauté onions and garlic, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in chiles. Add tomatoes, cumin seeds and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook angel hair nests in the broth. When broth is simmering, place the browned angel hair nests or vermicelli in a single layer in the pan, nestled into the broth. The nests should cover the whole pan. Turn them over in the broth so that they get moistened on all sides. Cover and cook until the vermicelli has soaked up the liquid, about 5 minutes.

If after 5 minutes the top of the vermicelli is dry, flip over the individual angel hair nests and cook a minute longer. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon soup into wide, shallow bowls. Top each serving with a spoonful of sour cream and some avocado, if you like, and sprinkle with cilantro.

Cook’s Notes:
Vermicelli usually comes in 1 pound packages, so about 1/2 a package can be used for this recipe. If you cannot find angel hair nests at the market, you can make fideo with straight vermicelli pasta. Just break up the pasta in 3 to 4 inch long segments and cook the same way as you would the nests, browning them first in hot oil.

*Good dried chiles are soft, flexible, and smell a bit like prunes. Avoid hard, brittle specimens—they’re old and less flavorful.

How Hot Is Your Chile? To assess a chile’s heat, slice off its top through the ribs and seeds, where the heat-producing compound capsaicin is concentrated. Touch the slice to your tongue. If you want your food to be milder, split the chile and scrape out all or some of the ribs and seeds. If your skin is sensitive, wear kitchen gloves or hold the chiles with a fork—and don’t touch your eyes.

The trick to a great sopa seca de fideo is the chicken broth. If you do not have the time to make your own homemade chicken stock, you can easily use bouillon, boxed broth, and canned chicken stock. While bouillon and the boxes work in a pinch, nothing beats homemade stock for this recipe. It brings a richness that can’t be had any other way. So if you try it, I strongly urge you to use homemade stock!

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Salmon Rillettes

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This salmon rillettes is seasoned with chives, shallots, lemon juice, butter, salt and white pepper. Serve with toasted mini French baguette slices and a glass of chilled Chardonnay, it makes for a perfect appetizer to enjoy out on the deck during quiet Summer evenings.

 

 

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Chicken Noodle Soup with Herbs and Petite Green Peas

Chicken soup with egg noodles and petite peas
Photo Credit: Sun Basket, 2017

Coquilles de Fruits de Mer

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Thank you so much!

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Grilled Sake and Soy Yakitori Chicken

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Yakitori (焼き鳥) is a Japanese type of skewered bite-sized pieces of grilled chicken and are prominent on the menus of most izakayas, casual Japanese restaurants that serve drinks and small bites of food. The preparation of Yakitori involves skewering the meat with kushi (串), a type of skewer typically made of steel, bamboo, or something made of similar materials. Afterwards, they are grilled over a charcoal fire. During or after cooking, the meat is typically seasoned with a tare sauce or salted.

Yakitori seasonings are primarily divided among two types: salty or salty-sweet. The salty type usually uses plain salt as its main seasoning. For the salty-sweet variety, tare, a special sauce consisting of mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar is used. Other common spices include powdered cayenne pepper, shichimi, Japanese pepper, black pepper, and wasabi, according to one’s tastes.

While grilling, I like to dip my chicken into the tare, or dipping sauce, two or three times , making for a nice “layered shine” to the meat. If you cannot find boneless, skin-on chicken thighs at the market, buy about 2 1/2 pounds of bone-in thighs and cut the pieces from the bone yourself, saving a few bucks.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Glaze:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sake

For the Chicken:
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 scallions or green onions, white and green portions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup soy and sake glaze

Special Equipment:
Bamboo skewers


Directions:

For the Glaze:
Stir brown sugar, soy sauce, honey, water, mirin, rice vinegar and sake together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until reduced in volume by half, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let glaze cool to thicken, for at least 1 hour.

For the Chicken:
Soak about eight 6-inch skewers in water to cover for at least 20 minutes.

Prepare a hot fire in a grill.

Thread the chicken onto the skewers alternating with the scallions, dividing the ingredients evenly among the skewers.

Pour the grilling glaze into a tall, narrow container, such as a pint glass. Working with one skewer at a time, dip a skewer in the glaze to coat. Remove, then repeat twice more to thoroughly coat the chicken. You can also brush the glaze onto the chicken if desired.

Grill the skewers over direct heat, turning occasionally, until the chicken is lightly charred outside and cooked through and the glaze is caramelized, about 2 minutes per side. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.


Cook’s Notes:

Alternatively to get move flavor into the meat, pour 1/4 cup of the glaze in a large bowl and add the chicken to the glaze; cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

This glaze is a simple way to add a ton of flavor to any dish. It’s a perfect complement to get that sweet and slightly spicy flavor with other sauces like sambal oelek or gochujang.

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Baby Octopi and Fried Potatoes

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Thank you so much!

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Thai Chicken Meatballs in Lemongrass Green Curry Broth

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Spicy, tangy, and deeply savory, this dish channels my favorite things about Thai food. Traditionally made with chicken thighs, chicken breast was used for the meatballs making them feel light in calories and well  balanced with the broth.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1  1/2 pound ground chicken breast meat
1  1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1  1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1  1/2 teaspoon crushed dried cilantro
1  1/2 teaspoon crushed dried Thai basil
Kosher salt, to taste
1  1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh lemongrass
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup well-shaken canned coconut milk
1-1/2 cups fresh cilantro sprigs, more for garnish
1/2 cup small fresh basil leaves, more for garnish
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 1/2 cups julienne carrots

 Directions:
Add the  chicken cumin, coriander, and  salt, a to a large mixing bowl and mix well.  To form the meatballs, set a small bowl of cold water nearby and, occasionally moistening your hands, gently roll 1  1/2-ounce portions of the meat between your palms into balls; you should get 16.

Over medium-high heat in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or a heavy bottom pot, heat the oil until shimmering.  Add half of the meatballs, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, and repeat with the remaining meatballs.

Add the shallots, jalapeño, lemongrass and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the pot; cook, stirring, until the shallots soften, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Stir in half of the cilantro and the basil, and remove from the heat. Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a regular blender, purée the mixture. Return to the pot if using a regular blender. Add the meatballs, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the meatballs cook through (165°F), 15 to 20 minutes, adding the carrots during the last minute or two to cook until crisp-tender.

Divide the meatballs, carrots, and broth among bowls. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and basil leaves and serve.

All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

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