Monthly Archives: January 2011

Green curry shrimp

Chinese New Year is coming up, so you’re going to see a plethora of Asian-inspired dishes here. Not necessarily to mark the occasion, but because those complex, spicy dishes have always been my favorites. Even when I was a picky-eater child who only ate Top Ramen and Pad Thai (true story).

So sit back and get comfortable – you’ll get three new shrimp dishes in the next few weeks because I’ve been doing all sorts of yummy things with them after discovering that the frozen shrimp at our local Harris Teeter provides crisp and fresh shrimp when cooked just right.

Shrimp curry is an easy weeknight meal that will give you plenty of leftovers for dinner and lunches the next night and a half. I skimmed down this Bon Appetit recipe to be even easier for the home cook, so feel free to improvise and make even better (and let me know!).

Green Curry Shrimp with Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 bunches broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 T prepared green curry paste (I use Thai kitchen)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • Lime wedges

Cook broccoli in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add curry paste; cook, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk; bring to simmer. Add shrimp; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli; stir to heat through. Season curry with salt and pepper. Serve with lime wedges and ribbons of basil, if you have it.

The shrimp maintain their delicate flavor amid the creamy curry, with coconut milk giving it just the right texture (note: I used one full-fat and one lite coconut milk can for this) and the spicy curry adding elements of kaffir lime, lemongrass, basil, garlic and ginger. I might even add tomatoes and bamboo shoots next time. If you have anything like kaffir lime leaves or galangal root, please add during the shrimp-cooking process for extra flavor.

I served mine with steamed rice.

Enjoy your curry nights, friends! xoxo

Smoked-salmon blini with creme fraiche and dill

I used to hate smoked salmon, and now I’ve posted two smoked salmon recipes in a month. Chalking it up to brunch being such a large part of my life now that I live in The South – and smoked salmon just screams brunch.

Blini are like tiny, salty pancakes that offer a soft receptacle for fancy toppings, such as meat, cream and caviar. I made mine with slices of smoked salmon, a dollop of creme fraiche and a small sprig of dill. I’m not a huge dill fan, but its slight addition to the blini is nice – just don’t overdo it.

So delicious. The blini are made with buckwheat flour and regular flour, so they have an earthy taste. The creme fraiche is creamy and tangy, matching the smooth piquant fish.

Perfect party food because it is a perfect finger food, I give you…

Smoked Salmon Blini with Creme Fraiche and Dill

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, clarified, divided (melt butter in saucepan and spoon off the white solids that rise to the top. Otherwise, butter will crackle on pan and spit grease at you!)
  • 1/2 pound smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • Fresh dill sprig, for garnish

Combine both flours, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter, then whisk into the flour mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter in a medium saute pan and drop the batter into the hot skillet, 1 tablespoon at a time. Cook over medium-low heat until bubbles form on the top side of the blini, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 more minute, or until brown. Repeat with the remaining batter. Set aside.

I made mine the day before, then chilled them. Before serving, place on baking sheet in single layer and heat gently in an oven at 200 degrees. Then, top with remaining ingredients.

To serve, top the blini with a piece of smoked salmon. Add a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprig of dill.

I was surprised how easy the blini were to make – they slide easily out of the pan after becoming lightly browned on each side.

These blini bites are colorful, fresh, festive and simply delicious. Perfect for brunch, or an after-work get-together or any other time you want to make something a little bit special.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Mini frittatas with andouille and spring onion

Whenever I have a brunch, I feel it’s important to bring something with eggs and possibly meat. Mini frittatas are a nice way to make individually portioned eggs pumped up with smoky andouille sausage, tomato, spring onion, parsley and finally melted Jack cheese.

I don’t really have a recipe for these because I just mixed a bunch of stuff in a bowl and then poured it into greased nonstick muffin tins (note: the eggs will cement to the sides if you don’t use nonstick, I even recommend muffin papers to be extra clean).

Multiple people have asked for the recipe, so I give you…

Mini Frittatas with Andouille and Spring Onion

Makes 24 frittatas

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk or cream
  • 1 c. sliced andouille sausage
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 spring onions or 4 green onions, chopped
  • 3 T chopped parsley
  • 1 c. Jack cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • EVOO
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375. Grease muffin pans.

Whisk eggs with milk in large bowl, set aside.

In medium saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Then add sausage, browning, 3-4 min. Add spring onions and stir until translucent. Add mixture to eggs. Stir in tomatoes and parsley. Season to taste with S&P.

Pour frittata mixture into muffin tins almost to the brim, then top with shredded cheese. Bake until set and the cheese is lightly browned, 20-30 min. Cool 5 min. in pans, then finish cooling on wire rack. Can be made ahead and warmed in the oven before serving.

I sprinkled chopped chives over mine after plating. I promise these will be a big hit!

Enjoy, friends. xoxo

Birthdays for foodies

From time to time, people ask me what they should give their foodie friend for a birthday or holiday. I don’t feel like I give good answers, because I always say things that I would want. Like a depression glass lemon juicer. Or a marble-handled caviar spoon.

I don’t know whom my friends consulted, but I got some pretty awesome foodie gifts this birthday. Three of my friends gave me a cookbook made entirely of food-blogger recipes. All the more inspiration to get myself published!

And then there’s Grant. He impressed my jaded little heart. Among his gifts were a couple pieces of vintage artwork that he framed. The most special was a vintage burlap sack he found from an old split-pea company based in SPOKANE, WASHINGTON (my home town!). I don’t know where he found it or in what decade it was made, but the throwback illustration is awesome and it will look great hung in the living room.

Remember my blog about that special Bundt pan? I remarked to Grant at the time that I would love to have a bunch of other Bundt pans of all kinds, including copper, and hang them in my kitchen as decoration. Mr. Savvy Thrift Store Shopper found six cool Bundt pans, including one that is heavy and in its original Bundt box (of Nordic origin). He also found a big copper one, a 1970s orange one and some pretty silver ones. I can’t wait to make all sorts of cakes with my new-to-me vintage cookware!

And, of course, I know exactly where they’ll hang.

I am spoiled, but we all should be spoiled by thoughtfulness, don’t you think?

xoxo

DIY T-shirt necklaces

Happy Birthday to Me! It’s true, I am a year older, but to celebrate the art-school kid who will always thrive inside me, I had a very crafty birthday brunch to celebrate. What is it that makes cooking and crafting go hand-in-hand?

I saw this idea on a blog and thought it would be great for a party of some sort: turning old T-shirts into new necklaces! I quickly researched the idea and found a Martha Stewart article to help – it entails cutting your T-shirt into shreds, stretching the pieces until they curl and then looping them into a colorful necklace/scarf. The necklaces are soft and warm and cozy. In the summer, you can get them wet and they’ll keep you cool on hot days. I’ve even seen them for little babies and it was super cute.

Find detailed instructions  here.

Here are Anna and Kristin, modeling their necklaces:

I loved how all my friends/party-goers swapped and shared their fabrics, so everybody had unique and beautiful designs. Natalie even wove a gold chain through hers, which I thought was a nice touch.

Some day, I will become rich making these out of vintage fabric, adding some ribbon or a sparkly brooch and selling them to Anthropologie for $50 a pop.

Beautiful Erica in the TWO scarves she made!

Oh yes, and I made a fabulous brunch spread, featuring mango mimosas, bloody marys, andouille and spring onion frittatas, smoked-salmon blinis with creme fraiche and a three-tiered strawberry “cake.” Stay tuned, friends!

Cheers to the girls! xoxo

Best breakfast in Winston-Salem – Breakfast of Course

Winston-Salem has a wealth of tasty Southern-foodie restaurants, and my favorites are the ones that serve brunch (brunch is a fever that the NW hasn’t caught yet). One thing I like about the Southern soul food trend is the new twists on old classics, like fried chicken and waffles.

I’ve been to Breakfast of Course a number of times, but never saw the chicken-and-waffles meal as a “for me” item (to use ad-speak). But then I recently read the description – spiced waffles sandwiching a lightly breaded and pan-fried chicken cutlet, with real Grade A maple syrup on the side. I ordered it immediately, with a side of tomatoes just to get a vegetable in.

Y.U.M., folks. The chicken was so tender and smoky-savory and it was insane surrounded by the perfectly cooked waffle, which had hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. I drizzled a little bit of syrup on top and everything came together.

I highly recommend this dish next time you’re in the mood for some soul food that isn’t deep-fried. (Note: the owner came to our table and said this is one of her favorite dishes)

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Pesto, goat cheese and sundried tomato palmiers

Puff pastry is the after-work-cocktail-hour-hostess’s best friend. Simply roll it out, cover it in things you like, fold up, slice and bake. At a small get-together recently, I made Ina Garten’s savory palmiers to go with Grant’s grilled chicken and ginger-infused vodka cocktail.

Using my friend Tonya’s homemade pesto and some goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and pine nuts, these really do make a wonderful and easy little appetizer. They look like little elephant ears.

Pesto, Goat Cheese and Sundried Tomato Palmiers

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, rolled out to 9×12 inches
  • 1/4 c. pesto
  • 1/4 c. goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 c. sliced sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil

Cover puff pastry with pesto, then sprinkle on cheese, nuts and tomatoes. Starting on short ends, roll the opposite ends halfway to the middle, then roll them over again to meet at the center. Then, roll one half on the other, pressing down lightly. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for 45  min. or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400. Slice dough in 1/4-inch pieces and place 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake for 14 min. or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Smoked salmon and apple carpaccio

My latest fave for brunch: a dish that tastes great and requires no actual cooking! From the cookbook of Giada de Laurentiis, this dish layers the smoky creaminess of salmon with the crisp tartness of green apple, the briney bite of capers and fruity essence of good extra-virgin olive oil. I crack a little black pepper over the top, too, for extra seasoning.

Giada makes hers with toast points, but I find that completely unnecessary.

Smoked salmon and apple carpaccio

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. smoked salmon, sliced thin
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced thin, then kept in a bowl of lemon juice-water to prevent browning
  • 2 T capers, drained
  • EVOO
  • Cracked black pepper

Layer the salmon on a serving platter. Follow with apple slices and capers. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cracked pepper, to taste.

Serve!

I recently made this for a lovely brunch with a few of my girlfriends. It went perfectly with the other dishes, which included healthy chocolate-cherry scones, fruit salad, mimosas, cinnamon rolls, spicy ham-and-cheese potatoes au gratin…

And this wonderful bacon, leek and Gruyere quiche:

I loaded up a heavy plate and took more home – I love a party where you get a doggie bag!

Enjoy your next brunch, friends! xoxo

Cornish hens, oysters and New Years

Last New Years, I was partying it up with my girls in D.C. This year, I enjoyed a relaxing and long weekend at Grant’s family beach house on Oak Island, N.C. It was awesome. We arrived to 68-degree temps on Friday, in which we went on a beach walk, beers in hand, and then came home to make dinner.

I made an Ina Garten meal of cornish hens, mashed turnips with fried shallots and lemon-garlic broccolini. I’m not going to post the recipes because it will get too long, and let me tell you this took like four hours total to prepare!

First, you make cornbread. Then, you make stuffing with it and stuff it into the hens (Grant got poulet rouge hens – so fancy!).

Then you roast the hens until golden on the outside and cooked through. They were like a richer chicken meat – even the white meat was actually dark. A really nice flavor and the stuffing inside was moist and delicious.

I didn’t much care for the turnips, which tasted too bitter. But Grant loved them, saying they were like a big, peppery radish with fried goodness on top. The broccolini was awesome, sauteed in lemon and garlic.

After dinner, we toasted the new year with a bottle of champagne and I said goodbye to what has been a roller coaster of a year, during which I’ve loved every twist and turn. I went from thinking I had a stroke of bad luck to finding a great new house, completing my first marathon and cultivating new and meaningful relationships that fill my life with joy, excitement and food!

On New Years Day, we woke up early, had breakfast, went on a long run and then came back for bloody mary’s on the porch. This day was going to be in the 70s, so we enjoyed every moment possible outside.

Then we went to the store and got stuff to make lunch: toasted baguette with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. After lunch, we drove to the inlet and walked around for another couple miles, looking for seashells. By the time our beers were empty, we decided it was time to eat again and we had a craving for raw oysters!

We went straight to the fish market, where we bought a dozen fresh oysters, still in shells, a lemon and an oyster knife. I’d never shucked an oyster before, but Grant had, so I prepared a plate with coarse salt and a bowl of our provisions…

Let me tell you – these long fingers were made for prying the craggy shells off an oyster! It was actually really fun and easy.

We ate our oysters with a squeeze of lemon, a shake of Texas Pete, some crusty bread and a frosty Bass beer. It was bliss as the sun started to sink.

I’m the pearl, obvs.

After oysters, we napped on the porch and then opened a bottle of wine while I started hoppin’ john dinner with jalapeno-cheddar cornbread. Then we watched a “Twilight Zone” marathon – my favorite New Years tradition.

I’d like to say it was the perfect start to 2011. xoxo