Shrimp and Fried Avocado Tacos

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Photo Credit: Dennis Prescott, 2016.

 

Take your avocado obsession to the next level by rolling them in breadcrumbs, baking them to crispy perfection and stuffing them in a tortilla with a few spicy shrimp. This version of a textural dream that is crunchy, spicy, and refreshing, all at the same time.We are sure that your hunger for tacos will never be the same on Taco Tuesday!

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Avocados:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large egg whites
1 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium firm but ripe avocados

For the Slaw:
1 lime
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 small red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for serving

For the Spiced Shrimp:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 medium (31-40 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
A squeeze of fresh lime juice

For Assembly:
8 small flour tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges, for serving
Sour cream, for serving
Chopped tomatoes, for serving

Directions:
To make the avocados:
Heat oven to 425°F.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Lightly beat the egg whites in a second small bowl. In a third small bowl, combine the panko with the oil.

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and peel. Cut each half into ½-inch-thick slices. Working with one slice at a time, coat avocado slices lightly in flour, then in the egg, letting any excess drip off and finally in the panko, pressing gently to help it adhere. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining avocado slices. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

To make the slaw: Finely grate the lime, making zest, into a large bowl, then squeeze in 2 tablespoon juice from the same lime. Whisk in the mayonnaise and a pinch of salt. Add the cabbage, scallions, and jalapeño and toss to coat; fold in the cilantro. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble to tacos.

For the shrimp: In a medium bowl whisk together olive oil, garlic, cumin, chili and onion powders, paprika, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add in shrimp and toss to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to 24 hours for best results.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a a large heavy-duty or cast iron skillet on high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the shrimp.and cook until  just cooked through and slightly pink, about 3 minutes. Do this in batches if necessary with more oil; the shrimp should be in a single layer.   Turn off heat and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. 

To assemble:  Grill tortillas on stove top over the flame until lightly charred.  Fill the tortillas with the avocados and top with the cabbage slaw, followed by three of four shrimp. Serve with extra cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream and chopped tomatoes, if desired.

Enjoy!

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Grilled Mozzarella and Red Peppers Sandwich

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This sandwich screams FRESHNESS, as it is made with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil pesto and oven roasted red sweet bell peppers drizzled balsamic vinegar. With layers of flavor, it is the perfect sandwich for a Meatless Monday lunch option.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 red sweet bell pepper
1 Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Ball
2 slices of Provolone Cheese
4 slices Italian bread
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Vegetable cooking spray

For the Fresh Basil Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt, more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500° F .

Place the red bell peppers on a rimmed backing sheet. Lightly coat the peppers with the vegetable spray and place in the heated oven. Allow the peppers to roast for about 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate it at about the 7 minute mark and remove when all sides have charred black. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow them to cool. When the red peppers have cooled to the touch, remove the charred skin by using a clean tea towel. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds, then julienne the roasted peppers.

Using a sharp knife, thinly slice six pieces of cheese from the mozzarella ball.

To prepare the pesto spread: Pulse basil and pine nuts in a food processor: Place the basil leaves and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a several times.

Add the garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.

While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Stir in salt and freshly ground black pepper, add more to taste. cover and set aside.

Set the oven to 450 ° F.

Take 4 slices of Italian bread and spread the pesto on one side.

Lay a slice of provolone ontop of the pesto.

Take one slice and with the pesto side up and layer with the julienned red pepper first.

Use a brush and lightly coat the top of the red pepper with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar.

Add three slices of Mozzarella cheese ontop of the peppers and close the with another bread slice. The pesto side should be touching the mozzarella. Repeat the process for the second sandwich.

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high. Melt the butter until it is lightly foaming. Gently place the sandwiches in the melted butter.

Fry the sandwiches for about 2 to 4 minutes on medium heat, as it the bread become golden brown. Using spatula flip the sandwich over until the bread is crispy and golden brown, for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Continue to cook the sandwiches in the oven, by placing the skillet sandwich in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes. Cook until the cheese is melted and slightly oozing from the bread. Remove from the oven.

Using a spatula, place a sandwich on a plate and serve immediately.

 

 

Cook’s Note:
Basil pesto oxidizes (darkens) when exposed to air, so to store, cover tightly with plastic wrap making sure the plastic is touching the top of the pesto and not allowing the pesto to have contact with air, making a complete seal. The pesto will stay greener longer that way. The pest will keep for about 2 weeks.


Garlic Braised Lamb Shanks with Sweet Bell Peppers

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Rich, mellow, saucy, and supremely satisfying, this dish of braised lamb shanks make an impressive and generous meal.If you like, remove the meat from the bones to serve an extra person or two. The topping of sauteed sweet bell peppers adds a bright tangy, fresh flavor and color to each serving. The lamb can be braised a day ahead, making the meat extra tender and flavorful. Accompany with Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes for a complete meal.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 to 6 lamb shanks
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
12 unpeeled garlic cloves
24 peeled garlic cloves (from 4 heads), divided
6 fresh bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium-size orange bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300°F.

Season the lamb with salt and black pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium until foamy. Add 3 shanks, all of the unpeeled garlic cloves, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer browned shanks, unpeeled garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs to a platter, and set aside. Add remaining 3 shanks to Dutch oven, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over about 15 minutes. Return browned shanks, unpeeled garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs to Dutch oven. Cover and transfer to preheated oven. Cook, flipping shanks every 20 minutes, until very tender, about 2 hours.

Remove lamb shanks, and set aside. Pour chicken stock into Dutch oven, and bring to a boil over high, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven. Remove from heat; use a ladle to skim off fat from surface, and discard. Return stock to a boil over high, skimming surface often and discarding fat, until reduced to 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Pour stock mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup; discard solids. Skim remaining fat from surface, and discard. Wipe Dutch oven clean; pour strained stock into Dutch oven.

Add peeled garlic cloves to strained stock, and simmer over medium-low until garlic is slightly tender, about 20 minutes. NOTE: The lamb can be cooked up to a day ahead. Refrigerate, covered; reheat before proceeding.

Scatter bell peppers and thyme leaves around lamb, and cook over medium-low, moving peppers around lamb occasionally, until peppers and garlic are tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb shanks to warm serving plates. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, salt, and black pepper to sauce, and stir until creamy. Remove from heat.

To serve, spoon sauce with bell peppers and garlic cloves around lamb shanks.

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