Category: fall

“Holy moley!” Shrimp and Parmesan Grits

The only way to enjoy grits is to add butter and cheese. Then add more butter and cheese. ¬†This was the first time I made this dish, and while it’s delish, it’s also decidedly not heart healthy. Which makes this recipe perfect for sharing!

For our first Friends-giving this week, B and I each made a memorable dish. His German Potato Salad¬†is practically legendary now, but¬†my shrimp and grits held their own in the taste test. I’d make this again. In fact, the hubby declared, “Holy moley! These are good!” Thanks for the recipe, Aunt Judy¬†–¬†and Southern Living.

PARMESAN GRITS:
1 tsp salt
2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
14 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (not the powdery stuff)
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 TBS butter
SHRIMP SAUCE: shrimp n grits
At least 2 pounds unpeeled, medium-size, raw shrimp
pepper and salt
vegetable cooking spray
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS all-purpose flour
1 tsp corn starch mixed with 1 TBS water til smooth
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped green onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp hot sauce
2 cups fresh baby spinach
parsley and lemon slices for topping
DIRECTIONS:

1. Prepare Parmesan Grits: Bring 1 tsp. salt and 8 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in cheese and pepper and butter until smooth. Taste and keep warm. TIP: Use a whisk Рit helps the fluffiness factor.2. Prepare Creamy Shrimp Sauce: Peel shrimp; devein and/or detail, if desired. Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and 1/8 tsp. salt РI tossed them with salt and pepper in a colander. Cook in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp from skillet with slotted spoon.
3. Keep the skillet on the stove. Reduce heat to medium. Add oil; heat 30 seconds. Whisk in flour; cook 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in broth, green onions, grlic, lemon juice, half of the lemon rind and all the hot sauce. Bring to a boil and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. TIP: If the roux never thickens add the corn starch mixture and boil one minute. Stir in shrimp until heated through. Taste broth and add salt, pepper and/or more hot sauce as desired.
4. Pour grits into serving dish. Add spinach leaves. Top spinach with shrimp and sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, lemon slices and lemon rind. Serve immediately or keep warm. TIP: Nobody likes congealed grits.
This made a LOT of grits — more than one 9×13 pan could handle. Next time I’ll serve in two pans, but in the meantime, who is excited about leftovers? This girl!

Pickled Peaches

I bought 12 peaches. One molded and attracted a hoard of fruit flies that made me nearly gag. I didn’t want to throw them all away (expensive!), so I stuck them in the freezer to bide my time and kill any remaining flies. That was 5 weeks ago. Here’s my plan: pickled peaches from Saveur. Any tips for a first time pickler?

INGREDIENTS

3¬Ĺ cups sugar
1¬Ĺ cups white vinegar
14‚Äď16 ripe medium peaches, peeled
8 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
1″ piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a canning pot of water to a boil. Submerge 2 one-quart canning jars and their lids and ring bands in boiling water; sterilize equipment for 10 minutes. Remove from boiling water with tongs, draining jars, and transfer to a clean dish towel.

2. Combine sugar, vinegar, and 1¬Ĺ cups water in a heavy medium-size pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Working in batches slide peaches into the pickling liquid and cook, turning once or twice, until peaches soften but before they turn fuzzy, 4‚Äď5 minutes per batch. Transfer peaches to a bowl as done.

3. Divide cloves, cinnamon, and ginger between the 2 jars. Cut any peaches with brown spots into halves or quarters, discarding pits, and trim away the brown spots. Spoon peaches into the jars, filling the gaps with the halves and quarters and packing the jars as tightly as possible.

4. Return pickling liquid to a boil, then pour boiling liquid into each jar, covering peaches and filling jar to 1/4″ from the rims. Let liquid settle in jars, then add more boiling liquid as necessary. Discard any remaining liquid. Wipe jar rims with a clean dish towel, place lids on jars, and screw on ring bands.

5. Transfer filled jars to a canning rack, submerge in a canning pot of gently boiling water (jars should be covered by at least 1″ of water), and process for 10 minutes. Carefully lift jars from water with jar tongs and place on a dish towel at least 1″ apart to let cool undisturbed for 24 hours. To test that jars have properly sealed, press on center of each lid. Remove your finger; if lid stays down, it’s sealed. Refrigerate any jars of pickled peaches that aren’t sealed; use within 4 weeks.

MAKES 2 QUARTS

Bangladeshi Pumpkin and Shrimp

As I’ve mentioned before, my book club pairs food themes with our reading materials. For October, we read Max Brooks’  World War Z in honor of Halloween, and since it’s an international tale, our gracious hostess made a plethora of Bangladeshi food. This pumpkin and shrimp dish was everyone’s favorite and we begged for the recipe.
TIP from the hostess and chef: ‚ÄúI am not good at measuring or using recipes. I always just call my mom when I am in doubt.‚ÄĚ

Ingredients

1/2 Pumpkin, cut into slices or large cubes (find it in H-mart or any Asian store), seeded
1-2 lbs uncooked Shrimp
3 TBS Vegetable oil

1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Red chili powder
1 tsp Cumin seed paste
1 tsp Ginger paste
1 tsp Garlic paste
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp Sugar
Salt
Water

Directions
1. Saute the shrimps in oil in the same pan, then add onion, garlic, ginger and cumin. Stir thoroughly. Then add turmeric powder, chili powder and salt and sugar stir continuously.
2. Pour in 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil. Add sliced pumpkin and cook on high heat for 20 minutes.
3. Stir everything and put a lid on the pot. Keep cooking for another 5-10 minutes on low heat. Test with a fork to see if pumpkin is soft if it is then it is done. There shouldn’t be much water left.
4. Garnish with fresh cilantro and green chillies. Serve over steaming saffron rice.

The Best Vegetarian Chili

This is no ordinary, ho-hum watery veggie bean chili. This recipe is smoky, complex, rich in flavor and texture. We made this for a pumpkin party and everyone RAVED, then asked for the recipe and for seconds. I’m on day 3 of leftovers and am still happy to eat this. I recommend serving it with Pumpkin Cornbread and all of the garnishes your heart desires. Really, make this chili. The recipe serves 12-15. It can be halved, as in the original version from from Saveur.

INGREDIENTS
2 cans dark kidney beans
2 cans pinto beans
1‚ĀĄ2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
24 cloves garlic, minced (I totally used the pre-minced stuff in a jar)
1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (Chop all the chiles except for 3. Reserve the adobo sauce for extra heat if desired.)
4 bay leaves
1 large white onion, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, minced
16 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
12 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cans canned hominy, drained
1 cup tomato paste
4 TBS. red wine vinegar
4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp. dried oregano
3 tsp. ground cumin
¬Ĺ tsp. chili powder
1 package sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
Sour cream, to garnish
Minced cilantro, to garnish
Minced red onion, to garnish
Queso fresco, to garnish – Any cheese will work, but this salty, semi-firm option crumbles nicely and looks pretty against the dark colors of the beans and tomatoes.

INSTRUCTIONS
1.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Put kidney beans and pinto beans into a large pot and cover with 3″ water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Set pot aside.

2.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Heat oil in a VERY large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, chipotle chiles, bay leaves, onions, and jalapenos and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden, 12‚Äď15 minutes. This smells awesome.

3.      Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Stir in reserved beans and their cooking liquid, stir to combine.

4.      Add the hominy, tomato paste, vinegar, thyme, oregano, cumin, chili powder, sun-dried tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chili thickens and flavors meld, about 1 hour. Turn off the heat to help thicken, and/or add more tomato paste.

5.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Serve chili topped with sour cream, cilantro, queso fresco and red onions. Prepare for double helpings ‚Äď and filling tupperwares!

Stuffing So Good You’ll Forget It’s Vegetarian

My family is comprised of solid omnivores. We hail from a state that exports chicken, folks. Come a holiday meal, there may be bacon, sausage, duck or chicken in every dish — often several at once when gumbo graces the table. Last Christmas we made an English goose and fried everything in goose fat. We’ve¬†adopted¬†The Barefoot Contessa’s stuffing recipe as the gold¬†standard. ¬†My dad recently killed a deer in the backyard with a crossbow and is busy crafting new venison stew recipes. We are meat-o-saurauses.

This Thanksgiving, however, I spent the holiday with two meat eaters and one vegetarian. To keep ¬†it inclusive, we made everything except the turkey vegetarian friendly. I chose stuffing and mashed potatoes as my dishes, which offered the challenge of how to create a delectable stuffing that wouldn’t make me notice the lack of meat. I’d also never made stuffing from¬†scratch¬†thanks to Pepperidge Farm’s bags of dried bread bits. After much hemming and hawing, I settled on this recipe for Vanishing Stuffing by Vegetarian with Benefits.

All I can say is that this was the first dish of leftovers we polished off — in under 24 hours. There were rave reviews by vegetarians and carnivores alike.¬†If I’d known how well it’d turn out, I’d have doubled the recipe to bring home a tupperware for myself! ¬†As is, this makes one 9×13 pan of 6-8 servings, depending on the size of your appetites. It took about 90 minutes start to finish, mostly¬†because¬†my knife skills leave something to be desired.

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf Italian or French bread
  • 8 TBS butter (1 stick)
  • 16 oz mixed mushrooms, chopped – include shiitake if possible
  • 2-3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup cranberry sauce, whole berry or jellied
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped finely
  • 10 leaves fresh sage, chopped finely
  • 8 leaves fresh basil, chopped finely
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, chopped finely
  • 4 TBS parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 TBS+ olive oil

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F

2. Cut the bread into small cubes, aiming to keep them under a square inch. Spread the bread cubes evenly on 2 baking sheets. Toast the bread in the oven until browning ‚Äď careful not to burn! This took about 10 minutes, with checks every few minutes.

3. In a large stock pot or large sauce pan fry the onion with a couple TBS of butter and a couple TBS of olive oil. Saute onions until translucent. Add mushrooms and carrots. Saute on medium low head until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add more butter and olive oil to keep bits from sticking and over-browning.

TIP: Since you’ll be chopping and stirring for a good bit, keep a glass of wine handy.¬†The art of pairing wines with food is largely a matter of personal preference however, some safe bets for¬†Thanksgiving¬†wines are Pinot Noir,¬†Syrah¬†and Zinfandel. We enjoyed all three!

4. Add the thyme, sage, basil, rosemary, and 3 TBS of the parsley. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes then add the bread cubes. Turn off the heat. Stir from the bottom up, folding the contents like soft whipped cream to keep the cubes from getting too broken up or drenched. Add additional butter and/or olive oil as needed. Mix in the cranberry sauce and dried cranberries. Salt and pepper to preference. Sample. Yes, grab a spoon and taste it!

5.¬†Transfer the stuffing to a buttered baking pan. Top with thin slices of the remaining butter before putting it in the oven. Bake until the top is golden brown and crunchy ‚Äď about 40 minutes. ¬†When it‚Äôs done baking, top it with remaining 1 TBS parsley. Indulge!

Like any new recipe, this one could be tweaked with additional ingredients and experimentation: toasted pecans, green apples, chopped celery…sweet Italian sausage…

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake

I love spaghetti squash. It’s like you’re eating a bowlof comforting carb-loaded noodles,¬† when actually it’s a vegetable!¬† But in case you haven’t hung out with the gourd lately, spaghetti squash doesn’t really taste like much. Or anything at all.

Determined to enliven a healthy, albeit boring, bowl of spaghetti squash, I stumbled across this recipe from Once Upon a Chef and tried it out on two unsuspecting dinner guests. Here’s my take on it – which was a success considering that only 2 servings remained at the end of dinner.

Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 cups jarred marinara sauce – pick one with bold flavor
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
8 oz fresh spinach
1 TBS Italian seasoning blend
3 TBS chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded cheeses  (Mozzarellla, Asiago and/or Parmesan)
¬Ĺ cup Panko breadcrumbs – cuz they’re the best kind
Salt
Black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

1.¬†Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place spaghetti squash in pot, cover with lid and simmer, turning once, for about 30 -40 minutes, or until squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork. While it’s cooling, preheat oven to¬†425 degrees.

TIP:  For those impatient cooks, you can also just slice the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, cover with Saran Wrap and microwave each halfРcut side upРfor 6-7 minutes each. )

2. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. It will be hot! Use a fork to pull out the flesh,  shredding and separating the strands like noodles  (it is best to go from side to side, rather than lengthwise). Place strands in large bowl.

3.¬†Add the olive oil, marinara sauce, 1 TBS salt, 2 tsp pepper, Italian seasoning and basil to bowl. Toss gently until squash is well coated with sauce and seasonings. You’ll have to pull the strands apart to get sauce inside. This is your noodle mixture.

4. Transfer half of the noodle mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Layer the spinach, then mushrooms and then half of the cheese. Top with remaining noodle mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over top. Sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs evenly over top of cheese. Top with fresh Parmesan. TIP: Your layers from the bottom up will be noodles/veggies/cheese/noodles/cheese/panko/Parmesan.

5. Place pan on a cookie sheet to catch drips, and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until top is golden and sauce is boiling. Let sit ~20 minutes before serving. Serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

For a full-on fall feast, follow the squash bake with this dark Gingerbread cake. One of my dinner guests brought this and I most certainly indulged in 3 squares of¬† spicy warmth. Don’t be fooled by its basic appearance; this cake packs a wallop of comforting flavor. The chef-ette recommends omitting the cloves, and skipped any toppings.

Growing up we slathered hot gingerbread with Cool Whip so that it melted and slid off the side. This time I let a pat of butter sit and melt on the top for a cold, salty contrast. Other ideas: whipped cream, lemon glaze, cream cheese, powdered sugar…