Month: April 2015

Citrus and Herb Shrimp Salad

(recipe serves 8)

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Two pounds large shrimp

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One small fennel bulb, sliced thin on a mandolin
1 C celery, diced small
One small red pepper, diced small
Half a red onion, diced small, rinsed and dried

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For shrimp:

Place shrimp in a pot of boiling water that has been seasoned with 2 t salt, 1 t red pepper flakes, 3-4 bay leaves, and the juice of one lemon. Cook until shrimp are just firm to the touch. Drain and cool. Remove peels and dice.

For dressing:

1 C mayo
2 T Dijon
1/2 t celery seed
1/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime
Zest of half an orange
Pinch of fresh parsley, cilantro and dill (be generous!)

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth. Chill.

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For serving:

Combine shrimp, fennel, celery, red pepper and red onion in a bowl. Add dressing until desired consistency is achieved. (You may not use all the dressing.) Adjust seasoning with salt and cracked pepper. Mound shrimp salad on avocado halves, crostini or lettuce.

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Prosciutto and Melon

(makes 12)

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1 large cantaloupe, peeled and sliced into 12 pieces

12 slices prosciutto

Fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

Cracked black pepper

EVOO

Balsamic Syrup

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For balsamic syrup:

Place 1/2 C of balsamic vinegar and 1 T of honey in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, maintaining a slow boil. Constantly swirl vinegar in pan to insure even cooking. Reduce down to a syrupy consistency. Look for big bubbles. Remove and cool. Store in the refrigerator until needed. If vinegar is too thick, allow it to come to room temperature before using. Great drizzled on salads, cheeses, meats, grilled fish…

Wrap each melon slice with one slice of prosciutto. Drizzle with EVOO, a grind of cracked pepper, mint leaves, and balsamic syrup.

Wrap each melon slice with one slice of prosciutto. Drizzle with EVOO, a grind of cracked pepper, mint leaves, and balsamic syrup.

Almond Cookies

(recipe makes 45 small cookies)

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3 C blanched slivered almonds
1 1/2 C sugar
3 egg whites
3/4 t almond extract

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Found  this recipe on the internet. Delicious cookies, great texture, a breeze to make and gluten-free!

Found this recipe on the internet. Delicious, great texture, a breeze to make and gluten-free!

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, add the almonds. Process until almonds are ground into a fine meal. Add sugar and process another 45 seconds or so. Make sure sugar and almonds are well-integrated. Add egg whites and almond extract. Process until dough forms around the blade.

Using a small ice cream scoop, portion cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet making sure to leave about 11/2 inches around each portion. You may need three baking sheets. (The recipe can be cut in half.) Place cookies into a preheated 300 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Cookies should be lightly golden in color. Leave to cool on the baking sheets. They will be soft at first but will harden as they cool.

These store well for several days in an airtight container. Great texture…crispy on the outside with a slight chewiness on the inside.

A wine inspired feast…

the story

Several months ago, I was invited to a wine tasting at The Boerne Wine Company. Featured that evening were the wines listed  below as well as the vintner. She, with her Italian flavored English, spoke with great affection about her family’s wine business. The wines have mineral notes, smooth tannins, nice color and are excellent paired with cheeses, braised meats and chocolate. Decanting the wines also is recommended. So, feeling inspired by a lovely Italian accent, wines were purchased and a dinner party was in the works. This week, I will showcase preparation and execution of our Nebbiolo inspired evening. “Cin Cin!”

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the wines

From the Piedmont region of Northern Italy

Grape: 100 % Nebbiolo

Coste della Sesia, Gattinara Tre Vigne,

Gattinara Riserva, Il Sogno Vino da uve stramature

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the menu

{Menu items were chosen to complement and contrast the wine selections.}

pepper stew served on grilled bread

pecorino romano with sliced pears, honeycomb & marcona almonds

braised pork shoulder and mushrooms served over soft rosemary polenta

roasted baby carrots & brussels sprouts

arugula, radicchio, shaved parmesan, toasted walnuts & lemon vinaigrette

bittersweet chocolate pudding, vanilla panna cotta, drunk cherries & amaretti cookies

{When you undertake a large menu like this, preparation and organization are key. Breaking the project down into smaller pieces helps avoid stressful circumstances. Here is the game plan:}

day 1

sear off pork and braise for three hours…while that cooks

make pepper stew

make vanilla bean panna cotta

make bittersweet chocolate pudding

make drunken cherries

toast walnuts

make garlic oil

bake amaretti cookies

{total prep time: 3 1/2 hours}

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day 2

set table

prepare bread dough and bake

prep salad and dressing

grill croutons for pepper stew

roast carrots and brussels sprouts

warm pepper stew

warm pork and mushrooms

make polenta just prior to service

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B U O N   A P P E T I T O !

{ REGULAR POSTINGS/RECIPES WILL RESUME NEXT WEEK. NEEDLESS TO SAY, MY HANDS WERE FULL THIS WEEK!}

Coconut Lime Sorbet

2 cans Coco Lopez
1 1/2 C filtered water
1 C fresh squeezed lime juice
Zest from two limes

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Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Using an immersion blender, process until smooth and well combined. A blender works well too. Chill mix for several hours or overnight before freezing in an ice cream maker.

Serve sorbet with a tropical fruit compote: diced pineapple, mango, kiwi, papaya. Fresh lime juice, zest, drizzle of honey and a couple of squirts of dark rum. YUM.

Serve sorbet with a tropical fruit compote: diced pineapple, mango, kiwi, papaya. Fresh lime juice, zest, drizzle of honey and a couple  squirts of dark rum. YUM.

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Coconut Sesame Cookies

(makes 16-18 cookies)

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1 3/4 sticks butter, soft
2/3 c sugar

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1 1/4 C flour
1/3 C sesame seeds
3/4 C shredded sweetened coconut
1/4 sliced almonds, toasted

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In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and sugar. Using the paddle attachment, mix until well combined and lightened.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sesame seeds, coconut and almonds. Mix well with a whisk.

Add flour mix to the butter mix. Pulse mixer until combined. Finish incorporating by hand.

Place dough on a lightly floured board. Dust your hands with flour and shape dough into a rectangle approximatey 14” X 5”. Wrap in plastic and chill.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Allow dough to “warm” slightly. Cut dough into bars about 1/4” thick.

Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake cookies in a preheated 325 degree oven. Cook for about 12 minutes, rotate pan, and cook for an additional 12 minutes or until edges are golden. Remove cookies and allow cooling.

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Seafood Pasta Salad

(serves 4-6, depending on serving size)

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one pound fusilli pasta, cooked al dente

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1/2 C red onion, diced small and rinsed
1 C green peas, blanched
1 C fennel, shaved
1 C celery, diced small
1 C English cucumber, peeled and diced
2 C baby spinach

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8 ounces, super lump crab meat
1 pound large shrimp, boiled and peeled
3/4 pound of salmon, baked, skin removed and broken into chunks

Lemon Dill Dressing

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For pasta: Place pasta into a pot of boiling, salted water. Cook until al dente. Drain pasta and rinse. Do not oil. Allow pasta to cool before dressing.

For salmon: Brush filet with olive oil and season with salt and cracked pepper. Place into a preheated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until just firm to the touch. Cool in the refrigerator. Remove skin and break into large chunks.

For shrimp: Add shrimp to boiling water that has been seasoned with half a lemon, 1 t of salt, 1 t of red pepper flakes and several bay leaves. Cook until just firm to the touch. Drain and peel. Chill shrimp before adding to the pasta salad.

For crab: I used a pasteurized super lump crab meat. Rinse crab before adding to the salad.

Combine ingredients and lightly dress with lemon dill dressing.

At High’s, we serve this salad with shrimp only. It can get pricey.

Feel free to omit salmon or crab or both.

Lemon Dill Dressing

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1 1/4 C mayo
1/3 C Dijon
1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T capers, drained
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t salt
Zest of half a lemon
1/2 c fresh dill, stems removed

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Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth and well combined. Stores for several days in the refrigerator.

Lemon Curd

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Zest from three lemons
1 1/2 C sugar

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1 stick butter, soft

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4 eggs
1/2 C fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, place sugar and lemon zest. Process until well combined. Add butter and process to mix well. With machine running, pour eggs – one at a time – through the feed tube. Process until smooth. Add lemon juice and salt and process until a smooth mixture results. Place mix into a stainless, heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk constantly making sure mix is not sticking to the bottom edges of the pan. Careful to not use excessive heat. Gentle cooking here. A slight bubbling will occur and the mixture should, when whisked, “hold lines”. This is when you know to stop. Strain curd into a bowl and press plastic wrap directly on top. Refrigerate for several hours before using. Overnight cooling is best. Holds for several days. Dip shortbread in it, serve with berries, smear on a scone, use it as a mini tart filling or as a filling between layers of cake. Thanks to Ina Garten for the recipe. Easy, as most of her recipes are, and a winner. Don’t we all want to be her neighbor? Or Jeffery?

Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

(recipe makes two large loaves or 12 mini cakes or 1 – 9″ cake round)

3 C flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt

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2 sticks butter, soft
2 C sugar
Zest from one large lemon

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4 eggs
1 t vanilla

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3/4 C buttermilk

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In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well with a whisk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter. Mix until creamy using the paddle attachment. Add sugar and lemon zest. Mix until well combined and lightened in texture.

Place eggs and vanilla in a portable container. With mixer on medium speed, drop eggs – one at a time – into butter mix. Mix well after each addition.

With mixer on lowest speed, add flour mix and buttermilk alternately beginning and ending with the flour mix. Finish incorporating by hand.

At this point, I often let the batter rest. Press plastic directly on top of the batter and place it in the refrigerator. Portion out later for baking.

Use non-stick baking spray before filling molds. Check out the recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cakes to see the individual baking pans I used.

Place cakes into a preheated 325 degree oven. Individual sized cakes bake for about 24 minutes total. I rotated the cookie sheet after 12 minutes of baking for even cooking. Large loaves or cakes will require longer cooking times. Remember to use the “touch test.” Don’t wait for a golden brown color as this may result in overcooking and a dry texture. “Just set” on top is the key and a slight pulling away from the edges of your baking dish.

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Mixed berries with lemon zest, lemon juice and a drizzle of honey. Allow some time to marinate.

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Slice off the top of each cake. Spoon on lemon curd and add fresh berries. Place top back. Fresh whipped cream, mint and a dust of powdered sugar makes this cake a sweet treat.