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Indian Shrimp Curry

  • 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup coconut milk (if it looks like lard, stir it up, the milk is down below)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound large, uncooked shrimp peeled & deveined
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onion for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, paprika, chili powder and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, for a minute.

Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and salt and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 8 minutes.

While the curry simmers, cook rice. Add the shrimp and cilantro to the curry, cover with a lid, and simmer for another 4 minutes, then stir in the lemon juice.

Serve on a bed of rice.

Recipe adapted from MediterrAsian.com

Mussels in White Wine and Garlic Sauce

The first time I made this dish, I put so much wine, that’s all it tasted like. So, I got my husband on board to help me and we managed to get it pretty much right. It’s not an exact science, like all recipes like this. It’s more of what you like. How much garlic, to or to not add red pepper flakes. That kind of thing. Adjust to your preference.

Ingredients:

  • 1 2lb bag farm-raised mussels
  • 3 to 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 cup of wine, approximately

1. First thing you need to do is clean the mussels. The mussels I buy are already de-bearded, but I do go through them and make sure there is no residual beard lingering anywhere. If there is, take a small paring knife and and scrape it off. Rinse several times and scrub them thoroughly. Discard any that are open. Place in a bowl with ice and refrigerate until you are ready to put them in the pan.

2. Heat a large pan and add the olive oil and butter. When that is hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until a light golden brown.

3. Add the wine. Pouring slowly and carefully. Add parsley flakes.

4. Add the mussels, including the ice. Cover the pan and let simmer until they all open. This takes about five minutes or so. Just keep checking. As soon as they are open, you want to get them off of the heat. Nothing worse than a chewy mussel.

5. Serve with spaghetti or linguine and, most importantly, a very large loaf of bread for sopping up all of that incredibly delicious sauce. It’s the best part.

Arancini

Let me see. Take some risotto, stuff a chunk of mozzarella cheese in it, bread it and then fry it. Does that sound like a little bit of heaven to you? Well, it is.

This is not something I can say I enjoyed making. I am not one for getting my hands all gooed up.  And all gooed up, they will get. I’m the type of person who goes through a pack of napkins when eating wings or ribs or something messy like that. So, plan on rinsing, a lot. Unless, of course, that doesn’t bother you. 

In either case, this is what you will need:

  • One batch cooked risotto, cooled
  • Flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Panko or Italian bread crumbs
  • Oil for frying

First, you’ll need to make Basic Risotto. You can use my recipe or your own. Either is just fine.

Next, you’ll need to set up a breading station consisting of:

Flour. Beaten eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper and bread crumbs. I used Panko.

Once you have that set up, next thing you’ll need to do is cut some fresh mozzarella into small chunks. 

Take about a soup spoon-sized portion of risotto in damp hands and form it into a ball, tossing it back and forth between both hands. 

Next, get a piece of the cheese and stuff it into the middle. Reform into a ball. You may need to add an extra bit of risotto, so it’s completely covered.

Now get ready to get down and dirty with the balls.  

Start by rolling them, one at a time, in the flour first, then the egg and, finally, the bread crumbs. You may have to reform them into ball-form at this point.


After you have them rolled, prepare your pan for frying. Heat about a half-inch of oil, I used canola, in a skillet.

Begin frying each ball, until golden brown on all sides. 

Transfer to a wire rack, with paper towels underneath to drain oil. Sprinkle a little bit of salt on while hot.

Let cool for a few minutes and eat when ready.

Enjoy!

Basic Risotto

Risotto is fabulous. This is a basic recipe for a base risotto. What you add to it is up to you. Or even what you do with it. I made this today and plan on using it tomorrow for Arancini. Stay tuned. But first, the basic risotto recipe.

  • One medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 16 oz. box of risotto or arborio rice
  • about 4 cups of chicken stock or 3 cups plus one cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons grated pecorino-romano cheese
  • freshly-ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the chopped onion until soft.

Heat chicken broth to boiling in another pan. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer.

Add rice to the pan with the onion and stir well to cover in oil.

Add enough broth to cover rice, and stir continuously until absorbed. If using wine, start with all of the wine and cook until all the wine is absorbed and then add the broth in batches. Continue this process until all, or most, of the broth is gone, and rice is al dente, stirring the whole time. This should take about 20 minutes. I use a ladle and add about two ladlefuls each time.

When all the broth is absorbed, add the cheese and pepper and stir well. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti Carbonara

I know this is not exactly health food, but, it is good food! I had it in Italy and wanted to try it ever since we returned home.  I found some techniques here and there and came up with this way of making it. Enjoy it and all its lovely fat it provides. After all, winter is coming. And, do not fear the raw eggs! It’s okay.

About 4 servings

  • 4 ounces of pancetta (cured Italian bacon), diced
  • 1 lb of spaghetti
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 4 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg, beaten
  • black pepper

Heat a large pot to boiling. Add a small amount of salt and begin to cook your spaghetti.

In a large saute pan heat olive oil. Enough to just coat the pan. When hot, add diced pancetta and cook until crisp. Not too crisp though. Just enough to have a little crunchy exterior and soft interior. About 15 minutes over medium-high heat.

Once it is done, drain off the fat. I did this because I thought there was enough fat already. Let’s save a few grams, shall we? I must’ve drained off a quarter cup. But this step is entirely up to you. Let it cool down for a few minutes.

While that is cooking, beat the four yolks and whole egg together in a bowl until well blended. 

Mix in cheese and stir together very well, until completely incorporated. Season with freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Add the egg and cheese mixture to the pan with the pancetta and mix well. I added a couple spoonfuls of the cooking water to loosen it up.

At this point, the pasta should be finished cooking. When draining, do not drain it super dry. Leave some water so the sauce loosens a bit to coat the pasta. I actually pulled most of it out with my tongs. You may also want to keep some of the pasta water in case the sauce is too thick.  You would add this a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Once the pasta is drained, pour it into the pan with the sauce, mix well. Sprinkle some extra cheese on top if desired.

Serve immediately.

Pico de Gallo

There’s nothing as delicious as freshly-made pico de gallo. Plump, juicy tomatoes mixed with fragrant cilantro, spicy jalapenos, garlic and red onions. Finished off with a fresh burst of lime juice. Can you almost taste it?  This is another one of those things, that, through trial and error, I finally came up with something that’s a keeper. Enjoy.

  • 1 large, ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 quarter red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt, or more to taste
  • few grindings of black pepper

Prepare all of the ingredients as mentioned above, place in a serving bowl, chill and serve. Goes lovely with fajitas, over fish or just munching with chips and a nice cold beer or margarita.

Fajitas

Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines. I’ve been making fajitas for years and through trial and error, I’ve finally came up with something we really love, and this is it.

  • 2 lb sirloin steak, boneless or boneless chicken breasts (you can either keep them in one piece or slice them and do a stir-fry type of cooking)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 half packet of Sazon Goya Picante seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced in thin strips
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced into thin strips
  • canola oil
  • lime juice
  • 12 fajita-size flour tortillas

Place steak or chicken in a glass baking dish.

Combine oil, lime juice, Sazon, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper  in a bowl, stir well, and pour over steak or chicken.

Cover and marinate for about two hours, flipping meat once.

Meanwhile, slice the peppers and onions and place in a bowl with a little oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

A great way to slice peppers nicely is to cut off segments, leaving the ribs and seeds behind. Then, all you have to do is cut each segment into lovely julienned pieces.

As I mentioned earlier, you can either prepare your meat one of two ways. Today, I am going to leave it whole and grill it. Sometimes, especially in winter, I prefer to pre-slice the meat and cook it like I’d do a stir-fry. This is the easier way because it is already sliced when it’s done cooking and you don’t have to worry about slicing up hot meat.

When you are ready to get cooking, prepare your grill or whatever cooking vessel you prefer. Remove meat from marinade and cook until desired doneness. I like my steak for this medium rare and of course I like my chicken cooked well done, as I’m sure everyone does.

Whilst that is cooking, heat a pan to cook the veggies. You can use a skillet, grill pan, whatever you have. Just pour the veggies into the hot pan and cook until tender-crisp. I usually squirt a little lime juice on at the end for a little sizzle and extra burst of flavor. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

When the meat is done, let it sit for about five minutes and then slice it into thin strips. If using steak, slice it across the grain.

Transfer your veggies to a serving dish, and place the sliced meat on top.

Heat the tortillas in the mircowave in either a tortilla server or on a plate covered with a damp paper towel, about one minute for ten tortillas. Or, you can do it the old-fashioned way and heat them in a pan or on the grill. It’s entirely up to you. I’m using the microwave because it’s just easier and they come out nice and soft and pliable. And also because I have this nifty, little, tortilla-warmer-upper-thingy.

Assemble your fajitas and top off with guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream, if desired.