Monday, September 24, 2012


I had some leftover Mozambique shrimp (recipe is on my last post) which I made again last night and decided to serve it tonight on grilled ciabatta slices. I always forget how great artisan bread is and how well it works with a saucy dish. Kind of like when you have an enormous bowl of mussles in a wine/garlic sauce and need to sop up some of that delicious broth. Same thing here. I went for the bread, there's nothing better. I toasted the bread on my indoor grill for about 3 minutes per side. It had beautiful grill lines and was crunchy, yet still soft in the center. And when I added the reheated shrimp and sauce, the bread accepted the juice and took on the role of host or hostess and I couldn't believe I hadn't tried this combination before. I added some chopped scallions for garnish, but if I had chives or cilantro I would have opted for those. Or even some chopped tomatoes would have been nice.

I don't have a recipe for ciabatta bread to share because I am too afraid to make it, am yeast impaired and have a perfectly good source for fabulous bread in my neighborhood. But I was feeling a bit adventurous yesterday and decided to make a beer bread. There's a bit of a story behind this. A few years ago one of the gals in my office brought in a beer bread (from a kit) for us to try. I really liked it and thought I would someday try to make it. Shortly after that I had dinner with Lori and she ordered an apricot beer. Ding, ding, ding, the bread lights were going off in my head. I decided that I would use apricot beer, chopped, dried apricots and try my hand at what I'd been told is the easiest bread to make. So that was yesterday's afternoon activity. Here's what I did to make the bread:

I bought a 6 pack of  Magic Hat apricot beer.

I needed one bottle for the recipe, but the liquor store wouldn't break up the pack. Not a problem, I'm sure I'll be able figure out a way to consume the other 5 bottles. I gathered the other ingredients and began to put the bread together. Here's the simple recipe:

Apricot Beer Bread
a combination of many beer bread recipes I found on the internet

3 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar (I used Splenda no calorie)
3 T vegetable oil
1 bottle Magic Hat apricot beer
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
Cooking spray

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Now make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beer and oil. Mix together, but not too long or vigorously because you'll end up with a tough bread. I started with a whisk and ended up using a good old wooden spoon. Add chopped apricots, mix and pour into prepared pan. Bake 60 minutes, remove pan from oven and cool on rack about 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and continue to cool on rack. Slice when cool.

The first time I tasted this bread I tried it plain. It was delicious and actually tasted like real bread. That's not saying much for the Magic Hat beer. If I hadn't put the chopped, dried apricots in the mix I don't think I would have know this was an apricot bread.

The second time I tried it, I grilled it, and slathered on some peanut butter and apricot jelly.

Very delicious. No, yummy delicious, but not worth the search for artisan apricot beer. I wouldn't say total failure, but I could not taste any apricot beer in the bread. I'm not discouraged, I'm going to try a beer bread recipe again, make it with the left over apricot beer (since it apparently doesn't have a strong apricot flavor), and add some cheese and jalapeno peppers. I bet it will be delicious, and not have any hint of apricot at all. This was definately a good lesson for me. If you want apricot beer bread, buy apricot jelly, slather it on whatever bread you've got in the house and chase it down with a beer.

What did I learn from this?  I can make yeast bread and I can't wait to do it again! And when all else fails, the artisan bread down the street is actually cheaper and something I can count on.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Spicy Mozambique Shrimp

I took a culinary trip tonight to South East Africa with Tara Pacheco's simply devine shrimp recipe, cooked in beer with some exotic spices that I was lucky enough to find in my local market. This dish is a quick fix, and it is out of this world, a must try for adventurous shrimp lovers.  Here's a picture of the festive spice package, so when you go hunting for it, you'll know what to look for.

Spicy Mozambique Shrimp
Inspired by Tara Pacheco

1 pound shrimp, deveined and tails left on- I used 16-21 count per pound
1 medium onion chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
3 T unsalted butter
1 T canola oil
2 T Sriracha sauce- although any hot sauce like Franks or Texas Pete would work
1 bottle of beer- I used Sam Adams
2 packets of Goya Sazon con Azafran
Juice of 1 lemon

In large pot add butter, oil, garlic and onions. Cook on medium to low until veg are translucent, but not brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add beer, hot sauce and sazon. Increase heat a bit and add the shrimp and lemon juice. Cover and cook on a low boil 5-6 minutes until shrimp become pink. Ready to eat? Hope so, 'cause your shrimp are done.

I served my portion with brown rice and loved every minute of it. But I have quite a bit of liquid left over and I am not wasting it. Next time I will serve this with big pieces of charred grilled Portuguese bread to sop up the seductive, spicy, delicious broth.  I think that's all you need.

This was just so easy and fast, I'm encouraging you to give it a try.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I've had quite a summer stuffing egg roll wrappers, and this weekend I definately hit the jackpot with two new recipes- one inspired by my cooking muse Lynn Socko and the other- well it just seemed to be a nostalgic way to use up the perishable wrappers and some sorry looking potatoes in my pantry. So in this post we have two recipes and I'm really happy to share them. Here's recipe #1:

Baked Portabello and Ricotta Roll-Ups
Inspired by Lynn Socko

5 egg roll wrappers
10 slices (1/4 inch) Portabella Mushrooms
Tomato/meat sauce- store bought or home made
8 oz part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup grated part skim mozzarella cheese divided

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. In medium size bowl mix ricotta cheese, egg, basil, pepper flakes, parmesan and 1/3 cup mozarella cheese.  Set aside. In 9 x 13 inch pan spread tomato/meat sauce on the bottom. Set aside and get ready to rock and roll. Normally I roll my egg roll wrappers on the diagonal, but for this recipe I cut the wrappers in half and rolled them just like you would for canneloni and left the sides open. Place each of 5 split egg roll wrappers on work surface, add a T of ricotta mixture and a mushroom slice.

Top with a sprinkling of mozzarella, make your roll ups and place in baking dish.

Cover with remaining tomato sauce, top with a bit more mozzarella cheese and bake 35 minutes uncovered in pre heated oven. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve 2 or 3 roll ups as a main course with your favorite garlic bread and a green salad. You won't be disappointed.


If you're not familiar with this blog, you probably don't know that I'm a New York gal, born and bred. And the local deli has always played a major part in my food memories. My grandpa Abe used to drive from Brooklyn, whisk me up on Sunday mornings (from the time I was 4 years old) and we'd go get bagels, lox, smoked whitefish and potato knishes for my family for breakfast. We'd set the table and get ready for a feast that would last until we were ready for nap time. It's a memory that keeps showing up in my recent thoughts.

Anyway, it has been so long since I've had a knish (pronounced kanish) that I decided that I'd make a version of this traditional deli treat using my left over egg roll wrappers. So here's recipe #2:

Egg Roll Potato Knishes
not an authenic knish recipe

4 medium size Russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 small onions finely chopped
2 tsp butter
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Additional salt if necessary
Generous grind of fresh black pepper
1 large egg
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 large egg plus 1 T water to make an egg wash

Cook potatoes on stove top until soft, about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are done, pour into colander and then place back in the hot pot to let any liquid evaporate. 

While potatoes are cooking, sweat onions in butter and oil on low for 10 minutes. I cover the pan. When onions have softened, raise heat a bit and let them brown slightly uncovered.  Add onions to cooked potatoes and mash to a fine consistancy. Add seasonings, cheese and  the egg. (the egg helps the mixture bind together). Now you're ready to roll up the knishes. Pre heat oven to 375 degrees and prepare your egg wash using 1 egg and a splash of water.

I rolled these babies up just like you would an egg roll. Place 2 T of potato mixture on egg roll wrapper.

Roll bottom of wrapper over potato mixture, fold the sides over the top, brush edges with egg wash to help seal and complete your roll.
Brush top with egg wash. This will help the knish brown. Bake in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Turn over and bake another 15 minutes. Don't these look toasty and good? The combination of the crispy egg rolls and the creaminess of the mashed potato filling was to me, comfort food at its best. 
They were definately yummy, but I must admit that my tastes have changed since I was a child, and I would have liked to have added some roasted peppers or even some ground spicy sausage or bacon. But for today, this was a blast from the past. And what an easy recipe! Next time I'll be a little more daring. It could be real soon, since I STILL have more egg roll wrappers, potatoes, bacon and cheese on hand. Here's the finished product, served with a yellow mustard and sour cream sauce.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Crispy Chicken

Lynn Socko, one of my internet cooking buddies has been an incredible inspiration to me. The two of us have been sharing ideas and cooking techniques for the last few months and it's been a blast. Here's a simple recipe of hers that is perfect for a weeknight meal or even company fare. Lynn, being from Texas uses jalapeno bread as her coating. Nowhere in New England would I know where to find that, so I improvised (to get the heat) by marinating my chicken thighs in yogurt and sriracha sauce.  

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs
Inspired by Lynn Socko

6 chicken thighs, bone in, skinned
6 oz nonfat Greek yogurt
3 T sriracha sauce
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
cooking spray

In large bowl mix together yogurt and sriracha sauce. Add chicken and marinate covered in fridge for 1/2 hour or up to 2 hours.

While chicken is marinating, chop cilantro, prepare bread crumbs in food processor or spice mill, and add seasonings to combine. Coat baking pan with cooking spray and pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove chicken from fridge, place bread crumb mixture in large bowl or plate and dredge chicken in seasoned bread mixture.

Place  breaded chicken on baking sheet (I line mine with foil for easy clean up) and bake 35-40 minutes. The baking time really depends on what size your chicken pieces are. Mine seemed to be enormous so I gave them the full 40 minutes.

Doesn't that look like something you'd like to serve yourself or guests? I steamed some sugar snap peas as a side, and the combo was great. And the chicken was juicy and tender, and the sriracha did not get lost in the yogurt.