Monday, June 29, 2009


You can usually depend on Bobby Flay to come up with a flavorful recipe for just about anything. He is such an amazing chef. One of my fave TV shows is Throwdown, where he challenges a chef that has a well-received food product by reinterpreting the product with his version. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses, but the show is always entertaining and informative. Many times, after watching a Throwdown, I'll go to the Food Network website and download one of the recipes to try.

This is not a Throwdown recipe, but it is one that was printed in the Sunday newspaper insert, USA Weekend, last November, to potentially be used for a holiday buffet. I think it's a good year-round recipe. I made three changes.
First, I substituted honey for white sugar. (I like to use almost anything in place of overly processed white sugar, when possible.)
Second, since I don't buy peanut oil, I subbed vegetable oil.
Third, I shucked the shrimp and deveined them. Bobby said to serve this as a peel-and-eat appetizer, but peel-and-eat shrimp turns me off. It's messy, and I don't enjoy eating the veins of shrimp. If you like peel-and-eat shrimp, then don't shuck and devein the shrimp.
This is a good recipe, one that I would make again.

Ginger-Soy-Lime-Marinated Shrimp, Adapted
Source: USA Weekend and Bobby Flay
Rating: 8 out of 10

INGREDIENTS: 1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
1" piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup lite soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. honey (or sugar, if preferred)
2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (or peanut oil, if preferred)
1/8 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 lb. large shrimp, shelled, deveined, with tails left on

Place shallots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice and honey in a blender and blend till smooth. Add green onionsand oil; blend till combined. Season with black pepper, to taste. Place shrimp in a medium bowl; pour marinade over; let sit at room temperature 20 minutes.

Preheat grill to high heat (about 450F). Remove shrimp from marinade and place in a single layer on a grill pan. (I don't have a grill pan, so I placed the shrimp directly on the grill grates, but turned that section of the grill off.) Cook for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes each side, or till shrimp are cooked through. Shrimp can also be pan-cooked: Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes, until done.

To serve: Transfer shrimp to a platter or 4 salad plates as an appetizer. (We had this as a dinner entree, served with rice, broccoli and pea pods.)

Friday, June 26, 2009


In my pantry, a jar of cherry preserves was growing old. I bought it to make something, and couldn't remember what it was I was supposed to make. So I decided to incorporate the preserves into a berry pie, and it was a huge success.
Though I enjoyed this pie, I do prefer using sugar substitutes, to reduce the sugar load on my overworked pancreas, so it won't be something that I'll deliberately do again. But I will say, the cherry flavor was intensified from the preserves, and it was yummy. (I also had leftover pie dough in the freezer, so this was a fairly quick dessert for me.) I used fresh fruit, but frozen will work. I like using instant tapioca in fruit pies, because it keeps the pie from being runny.
Cherry Preserves Berry Pie
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 8 out of 10
your favorite pie crust for a 2-crust pie
4-1/2 cups blueberries, blackberries and sweet bing cherries, mixed
1/4 cup instant tapioca granules (find this by the pudding mixes in your grocery store)
12 oz. jar cherry preserves (you can also use blueberry or seedless raspberry)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. butter, divided use
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
Position oven rack to center position of oven. Place a pizza stone, or unglazed ceramic tiles, on top of oven rack. Heat oven to 400F.
Roll out pie crust to fit 9" pie plate; place crust in plate; trim edges; crimp. Roll second sheet out. Cut dough into strips, as desired, for a lattice top. Refrigerate.
For filling, combine fruit, tapioca, preserves, lemon juice, and spices in large bowl; toss to mix ingredients. Let sit for 15 minutes. Fill pie crust with fruit filling, including juices. Dot top with 1 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces. Place dough strips on top of pie in desired lattice design. Melt 2 tsp. butter in small custard cup, covered; brush on top of lattic strips. Sprinkle with sugar. Place sheet of aluminum foil underneath pie plate and pull up to form a slight "bowl" under pie plate -- this is to catch drips, because pie will bubble over. (Alternately, you can bake pie in a deep dish pie plate, only bringing dough 3/4 of the way up to avoid spilling over.) Bake on pizza stone 45-50 minutes, or till filling bubbles and crust is browned. (You may need to cover pie edges during last 15 minutes of baking time to protect from burning.) Cool pie on wire rack for several hours before serving. Yield: 8 servings
Serve pie plain, or with whipped cream or ice cream.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Blogging buddy Cheri, of Fabulous Foods, worked on her friend Mitch's pizza dough recipe for over a year in a friendly competition, trying to best him. She came up with a really great pizza dough recipe by subbing semolina for part of the flour. Semolina is a de-germed and de-branned flour, just like regular all-purpose, but it's made from a high-protein flour. It's yellow color comes from the type of wheat. Because of the way semolina is processed, its texture is coarser than all-purpose flour, and it's the magic ingredient in this dough. Italians have known about semolina for a long time. (My mother-in-law always used to tell me to buy pasta made with semolina.) It adds the chewy texture to this pizza dough, which a true pizza connoisseur reveres.
I did have some trouble with the recipe -- no way could I use the amount of water in the recipe. First off, when I placed the water, yeast and honey in my food processor and pulsed, I had a huge mess -- the mixture splashed up so much it actually came out of the processor. And I've not had success baking pizzas at 550F -- they burn at that temp. My own method is to set the oven at 550F, then immediately reduce to 400F when the pizza goes in.
I've already rated Mitch's pizza dough recipe 10/10, but I need to rethink that rating. Now that I've made both recipes, I can say that I like Mitch's because I can roll it very thin; but I like Cheri's because it has the flavor and chew that comes from semolina. But neither one has it all, so I'm rating both a 9 and am still searching for that elusive "perfect" pizza dough -- one that is crispy on the edges and tender and chewy inside, and has a good flavor. 9 is a very high rating -- I would make either of these pizza doughs again, because they're both excellent.
Cheri's Favorite Pizza Dough, Adapted
Source: Fabulous Foods
Rating: 9 out of 10
INGREDIENTS: 1 cup very warm water, divided use
2 tsp. active dry yeast (not Rapid Rise or instant)
2 tsp. sugar (I used honey)
2-1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup semolina flour (Bob's Red Mill semolina is available in some grocery stores and online)
1 tsp. sea salt
Combine 1/4 cup water, yeast and sugar or honey in work bowl of food processor and pulse to mix. Let sit for about 5 minutes, or till yeast starts to foam.
Measure flours and salt in a large bowl; whisk together. Add 1 cup flour to yeast mixture and pulse to mix. Gradually add remaining water and flour mixture, pulsing while adding. When all ingredients have been added, adjust dough as needed, adding more water to make dough looser, or more flour to tighten it up. You want to use the least amount of flour to get a pliable dough. Too much flour will make the dough tighter and tougher.
Unlike cake batter, yeast dough likes to be beat to death, so have at it! Pulse it, pulse it, pulse it, then pulse it some more. When you've beaten it to death, take the dough out and place it in a bowl that has 1 Tbsp. olive oil smeared around the inside. It helps if your hands still have the olive oil on them -- it will keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Turn the dough over once, to coat the top with oil as well. Cover with a damp, clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about an hour or so. I like to use my microwave oven (turned off, of course). Test for doubling by putting two fingers into the dough; if the dents remain, the dough has doubled. Also look for little "blisters" on the surface of the dough. You can prepare the dough for baking now, but it will even be better if it "cures" in the fridge overnight. Curing gives the dough more flavor. If desired, you can freeze the dough after the first rising. Let it come to room temperature before shaping and baking. Yield: two (11") pizzas
If you don't have a pizza stone, please do buy one. They're only about $10 and they do make your crust better. I usually cut a piece of parchment about the size of the stone and sprinkle some cornmeal onto it before placing my dough on top. This makes it ever so easy to slip the pizza on and off the stone.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Asian cooking can be fun and rewarding, but some of the ingredients are exotic and not easy to find. I had to order and then wait for the sichuan peppercorns before I could make this dish. Frankly, I was a tad disappointed. I'm always looking for a recipe that doesn't have an overload of sugar in it, and this recipe had no sugar, but perhaps it needed some. It bordered on bitter. For some reason, it wasn't very hot either, and I think I was expecting it to be. I ate it and somewhat enjoyed it, but probably would not make it again. It's possible that I made a mistake or that some of my ingredients were bad, but for some reason, I'm not up to a second try on this one. If someone else tries it and thinks it's great, please do let me know, as I'm not trying to deliberately knock a recipe. I guess this is the primary reason I rate my recipes -- so you can really get an idea of where the recipe stands. If I just said I enjoyed it, that wouldn't really tell the whole story.
Sichuan Peppercorn Shrimp
Rating: 6/10

INGREDIENTS: 1 lb shelled and deveined shrimp
1 Tbsp. sichuan peppercorns, toasted & ground (order from Penzey's)
1 Tbsp. oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. lite soy sauce
1 small chili pepper, seeded and chopped (I used serrano)
1 tsp. Thai sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, chopped

Toss shrimp in ground peppercorns; set aside. Heat oil in large frying pan. Add shallots; saute till tender. Add garlic; saute another minute. Add shrimp; cook a few minutes per side; transfer shrimp and shallots to dish to keep warm. Deglaze pan with chicken broth. Stir in soy sauce, chili pepper, chili sauce and lime juice; cook over medium heat till mixture is reduced by half. Stir in shrimp, sesame oil and cilantro and heat through. Serve garnished with green onions.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Coleslaw is a perfect accompaniment to so many dishes: burgers, chili, stews, etc. My sister-in-law, who entertained often in her younger days, always had a bowl of coleslaw on the table. And she set a very fancy, very sophisticated table.

There are lots of variations on simple coleslaw, and this is my variation. I like a little sweetness added, but I try to avoid sugar because I'm pre-diabetic. I love the flavor and sweetness that apples bring to the slaw. Try this and see if you don't agree that it's good.

Apple Coleslaw
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 9 out of 10

1/3 cup low-fat mayo (I used Duke's, but I also like Hellmann's)
2 Tbsp. frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
big pinch of sea salt
3/4 cup Granny Smith apple, grated or finely chopped
1/2 pkg. Classic coleslaw mix (I used Dole's)

Combine first four ingredients in measuring cup or small bowl; stir well to mix. In large bowl, combine apple and coleslaw mix; pour dressing over; toss to distribute ingredients. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.


Salmon gets to be like chicken after awhile -- boring unless you find new recipes. This one is courtesy of Coastal Living Magazine, April 2009, and it's anything but boring. The flavors are decidedly different and perky, a nice change from the same old, same old. It starts with a rub before grilling, then a mixture of herbs and flavorings provide a drizzle to accompany each bite. This one's a keeper.

Tandoori-Spiced Salmon with Cilantro-Mint Drizzle
Source: Coastal Living Magazine
Rating: 8 out of 10

1 tsp. curry powder (yellow, mild Indian curry powder)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. sugar

Combine all ingredients in small bowl.

2 cups fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup slivered toasted almonds
2 tsp. grated peeled ginger
1-1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 - 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. chopped garlic
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup canola oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in work bowl of food processor; pulse till smooth. Add oil in slow, steady stream through chute with motor running. Cover; let stand at room temp 30 minutes. Makes 1 cup. Use as dip for veggies, pot stickers, or samosas, in addition to serving over top of fish

Sprinkle Tandoori rub evenly on tops of four (6-8 oz.) salmon fillets. Grill to desired doneness (best if slightly undercooked, just a bit red in the centers). Top fillets with cilantro-mint drizzle and a dollop of Greek yogurt, if desired. Serve with Basmati rice. Yield: 4 servings


Amanda, of
Amanda's Cookin',
has a Thifty Thursday thing going on. I've been meaning to blog on Thursdays with something thrifty, since I am a thrifty person, but never got around to it. But, about a month ago, after spotting a huge bargain in my local Harris Teeter, I had every intention of broadcasting my find. There were packages of "lamb bones" for $1.74 and $1.47. But, when I carefully inspected the packages, I saw that the bones were very meaty. So meaty, that I decided to buy them and make a lamb stew. The stew was delicious -- lamb is just a bit sweeter than beef, but along the same order. I made this like an ordinary beef stew with excellent results. You can use your favorite beef stew recipe, or, if you don't have one, here's a simple one:
Simple Lamb Stew
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 8 out of 10
INGREDIENTS: 3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
3 - 3-1/2 lbs. meaty lamb bones
3 Tbsp. + 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided use
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, peeled, cut in chunks
1 large potato, peeled, cut in chunks
optional: 1-1/2 cups frozen peas
Combine flour, salt, pepper and paprika in resealable plastic bag; add lamb pieces; shake to coat lamb. (Do not discard any remaining flour mixture.) In 4-quart or larger heavy pot, heat 3 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat; add lamb; brown on all sides. Transfer lamb to bowl or dish; cover; keep warm. Saute onion in remaining oil. When onion is transparent, add garlic and thyme and cook additional minute; sprinkle remaining flour mixture over onions; stir; slowly stir in broth. Transfer lamb back to pot; add bay leaf. (Add additional broth, if necessary, so that meat is covered.) Bring to boil; cover, reduce heat to simmer; cook 1-1/2 hours, or till meat is tender. Add carrots and potatoes; cook till just barely tender, about 25-30 minutes. Stir in frozen peas; turn off heat; cover; let sit for about 10 minutes, or till peas are tender. Yield: about 3-4 servings
Serve this with a tossed green salad, or coleslaw.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Apologies for my long absence, but Murphy's Law has been working overtime in my household. We finally fixed our computer problem: Vista is incompatible with The Shield Deluxe Antivirus Program. Just when I thought I could return to blogging, my shoulder flared up. A car accident in 1979 left me with damaged vertebrae and a susceptibility to repetitive stress injury from computer usage. Since I've played hookey from physical therapy since November, I have no one to blame but myself. Now that I'm back in PT twice a week, I have limited time for the computer. I have yet to look into my bulging folder of recipes that need to be posted. I thought, instead, I would let Martha Stewart usher in my comeback with this timely recipe, made today, using strawberries. As is typical of MS's recipes, there is no guidance on how the texture of this cookie is supposed to be. I'm assuming, from the title, the cookie should have the texture of a shortcake. If that is so, then her baking time of 24-25 minutes is way off. But her photo (see top photo) is much prettier than my cookies. If you only bake the cookies till the dough is done, they won't brown on the bottom like the top photo. If you let the cookies brown like the top photo, I fear they will be terribly overdone inside. You can certainly check the original recipe on Martha's website; I've printed my smaller (1/3) recipe below, to which (amazingly) no changes were made except for the baking time and method of incorporating the butter into the dough. (It is just so much easier to grate frozen butter into a dough instead of cutting it in with knives or a pastry cutter.)
What to watch out for: Don't overdo the strawberries. Too many will make the dough soggy. This cookie is not a good keeper, so plan on eating them all the day they're made, or freeze them. Somehow, I don't think this will be problem once you taste them. I ate eleven cookies very easily, without even thinking about it -- they are small and really delicious.
Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Adapted 1/3 Recipe from
Rating: 8 out of 10

INGREDIENTS: Scant 2/3 cup diced strawberries (1/4" dice)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. + 2 Tbsp 1 tsp. sugar, divided use
2/3 cup chilled flour (I used Ultra-Grain, which is 30% whole wheat)
2/3 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. coarse salt (I used Kosher)
2 Tbsp. frozen butter
3-1/2 Tbsp. chilled heavy cream
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (any coarse sugar crystals will work)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small dish or bowl, combine strawberries, lemon juice and 2 tsp. sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 2 Tbsp. 1 tsp. sugar. Grate butter through a microplane coarse grater (which is a fine grater, actually) over flour and then mix with your hands until it resembles coarse crumbs. Quickly stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberries and their juices. Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon,drop dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until dough is cooked (about 10 minutes) for a very soft but delicious cookie. Or, you may prefer to bake them till they're golden brown, probably 15-18 minutes, in which case I have no idea what they will be like, but I do hope you will let me know. In any event, good luck! Yield: 13 cookies