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2012, Balance, and Shrimp Cauliflower Curry

Gosh. It’s been a week and a half since I’ve graced you with any tasty eats. I hope the scalloped potatoes were enough to keep you sustained through the holidays. I didn’t anticipate taking so much time away from here, but with the rush-rush-rush of the holidays and a busy work schedule, I was glad I did.

How was your holiday season, by the way? Merry, I hope, and full of warmth and family and friends, worthwhile indulgences and comforts. We spent the holidays here in town (as we usually do – we are lucky to have most of our family members here in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex), feasting for what seemed like days. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with so many loved ones. We rang in the New Year with family as well, enjoying a retro-yet-fun fondue party in our home. The perfect ending to the holiday was a trip to the Winspear Opera House to see Les Miserables on New Year’s Day. (If you are ever in Dallas, I highly recommend checking out the AT&T Performing Arts Center. I’m ecstatic that Dallas finally has such a gorgeous area for the Arts.) While this isn’t my first time seeing Les Miserables (heck, I practically have the thing memorized), I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, soaking up all that I could from this spectacular performance. It was gorgeous.

And now, I’m transitioning back to “normal” life. While I didn’t post a list of “resolutions” this time around, I did take a look at my 2010 goals. Actually, I was rather surprised - I have achieved nearly all of those. I haven’t posted my very own bread recipe yet, so I imagine I’ll still focus on that goal, but I have worked towards improving the design here at Tasty Eats At Home (more still to come!), and I posted a menudo recipe in 2010, and I attempted puff pastry/phyllo. As for the work/life/blog balance thing, I’m repackaging that into my 2012 focus.

Instead of a list of “resolutions”, I’ve opted for a singular word. A theme, if you will. Balance. I struggle with balance on a regular basis. I think many of us do, always trying to do too much, too fast, too often, and many times ignoring other areas that need our attention as well. Personally, I forget to give myself permission to be still. Most days, I’m up before 5AM, and I am busy-busy-busy, getting my workout in, packing breakfast and lunch to take to work, getting ready for the day, and I’m out the door at 6:30AM or so. I commute about an hour to/from work, and then I’m home, and busy-busy-busy making dinner, washing dishes, doing other chores, and gosh, before I know it, it’s bedtime, and the whole process repeats itself, and I feel I can’t find the time to contribute to the blog, to keeping the house clean, to doing special things with the kids, much less “relaxation” time! I have to remind myself that it’s okay to let things be from time to time, to remain still, to balance the crazy-busy with the calm-happy parts of my life. So, for 2012, balance is the theme.

It only makes sense that on a grander scale, The Balanced Platter launched yesterday!

This is an exceptional place you can visit for balanced, gluten-free eating. You might notice me around there, as I’ll be contributing posts from time to time. I’m extremely excited about this site and its future!

Balance also carries into my diet. While I’m not joining the millions of others in a New Year’s diet, I do want to achieve balance in my eating. I feel best when I am eating in a balanced manner. For me, that means many fresh vegetables, a healthy dose of protein, very little grains, and healthy starches such as sweet potatoes and pumpkin. And fats. I feel satisfied when I have lots of good fats. For me, coconut oil and coconut milk suit me well, and I love to incorporate them in a lot of recipes. In this curry, (which is somewhat a variation on gobi masala) I use both. The result is not nearly as creamy or indulgent as some other curries I’ve shared, but the coconut milk provides a lovely body to the sauce as it clings to the shrimp and cauliflower. It also gives the dish a dose of comfort without being overly heavy; the perfect balance of healthy and satisfying. You might find this dish in need of a bit of extra heat – when I make it again, I’ll likely add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (we like a bit of kick). However, even without the heat, this curry was delightful.

Shrimp Cauliflower Curry (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

3 T unrefined coconut oil, divided

2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used large shrimp)

1/2 t kosher salt

1 T black mustard seeds

1 medium onion, chopped

2 T red bell pepper

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 t grated fresh ginger

1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

2 t ground turmeric

1/2 t ground cumin

1/4 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t garam masala

pinch asafoetida (hing) (make sure it’s gluten-free; many contain wheat)

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

3/4 c coconut milk

1/2 c water

salt to taste

chopped cilantro

Heat skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat. Season shrimp with salt and lightly cook (in batches if needed), 1-2 minutes per side, until shrimp is pink but not cooked all the way through. Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add the mustard seeds and saute for about 30 seconds. Add onion and red pepper; saute 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlid, ginger, and serrano chile. Saute another minute. Add the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, garam masala, and asafoetida and stir once. Add the cauliflower and stir into the seasonings to coat. Add the coconut milk and water and stir to coat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender, stirring occasionally. Add back the shrimp and season with additional salt to taste. Cook for another 2 minutes or until shrimp has cooked through.

Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with steamed basmati rice if desired.

Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Jicama Slaw

There are days, and sometimes weeks, when innovation in the kitchen eludes me. I try to prepare a meal plan every week (When they’re more organized, you see them posted here on the blog. This week was not one of those “more organized” weeks. There’s still a plan, but it’s rather basic.), but sometimes, I can’t think much beyond the same staples that reappear week after week – salad with grilled chicken, or meat+sweet potato+veggie. While I love the simplicity of those meals (I can do those on auto-pilot, which is wonderful after a long day at work), I don’t experience that joy in the kitchen that comes from freeing myself from the norm and really getting creative with ingredients. So last week, when I was working on the menu once again, I paused.

Must come up with something different.

Then I glanced at the grocery store ads, and saw that shrimp was on sale. Love shrimp. It’s fast, lean, and so tasty – perfect for a weeknight meal. But what to do with it?

We love lettuce wraps here in the Tasty Eats At Home household. Often I make a gluten-free version of these lettuce wraps (using gluten-free soy sauce and simply omitting the oyster sauce), and I use not only ground pork, but sometimes I’ll use ground turkey, chicken, beef, or even game meats, like ground antelope, to change things up a bit. But last week, I thought I should look at our lettuce wraps with fresh eyes. With shrimp, they would be something new. I also thought a summer-y, almost tropical flair would be a perfect change of pace. Hence, these wraps were born.

These wraps are light and bright, topped with a fresh slaw of jicama, carrots, and cabbage, but the hint of chipotle is enough to give the flavors balance, interest, and substance. Both my husband and I truly loved the coconut flakes, though. They really added that unique tropical flavor without being overwhelming. (It doesn’t hurt that we both love coconut – I’m a coconut fiend!) Surprisingly, with the slaw, shrimp, and lettuce stored in separate containers, these wraps were even pretty tasty for lunch the following day. These are definitely a new item to include in the regular menu rotation!

Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Jicama Slaw

 1 T coconut oil

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

 2 T chopped green onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 t chipotle chile powder

salt and pepper to taste

Romaine lettuce leaves, separated

2 T toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

Jicama slaw (recipe below)

 Heat oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, toss shrimp with green onion, garlic, chipotle chile powder, salt, and pepper. When the oil is shimmering, add shrimp to pan and spread out in a single layer. Allow to brown for a minute or two, then stir to flip shrimp to the other side to finish browning, 3-4 minutes more, depending on the size of your shrimp. Shrimp will be cooked through when it turns pink. This happens fairly quickly, so don’t go too far! Remove from heat.

Fill lettuce leaves with shrimp, then top with a bit of coconut and jicama slaw. (This is also fun when you serve each component separately at the table, and allow your diners to build their own lettuce wraps.) Serves 3-4.

 

Jicama Slaw

2 c very thinly sliced red cabbage

1 1/2 c shredded jicama (I just used the shredder on my food processor)

3 carrots, peeled and shredded (I just used the shredder on my food processor)

2 T chopped green onion

2 T chopped fresh parsley (cilantro would also be good here)

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 orange

1 t chipotle chile powder

1 t honey

salt to taste

Add cabbage, jicama, carrots, green onion, and parsley in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together lime and orange juices, chipotle chile powder, honey, and a bit of salt. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss until everything is well-coated. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Can be made an hour or two in advance – chill until ready.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Daring Cooks: Cold Soba Salad and Tempura

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com.

While I am a fan of Japanese cuisine, truthfully, it’s something that has rarely made an appearance in my kitchen. I’ve made sushi before, but that’s about the extent of my experience. However, I was excited about this challenge – tempura is a tricky beast, and I thought this would be a wonderful chance to tackle it. As for cold soba salad – I was game for that! I’ve made soba a few times before, most successfully in a dish called ostu. It’s been a while though, and this was a new recipe, so it was also exciting.

How did I make the tempura gluten-free? This was perhaps one of the easiest adjustments so far with my Daring Cooks’ challenges. The original recipe called for a 1/2 cup of regular flour and 1/2 cup of cornstarch - so I substituted 1/2 cup of sweet white rice flour and 1/2 cup of tapioca starch. It came out beautifully – airy and crisp. We enjoyed sweet potatoes, green beans, and shrimp, dipped in the spicy dipping sauce (made gluten-free easily by substituting gluten-free soy sauce), and there wasn’t a bit left. While I loved this Japanese-style, I can easily imagine taking the tempura batter “process” over to other cuisines (onion rings, anyone?).

The soba salad was also delicious, so much so, I think I enjoyed it even more than the tempura. I served ours with a dashi sauce, green onions, eggs, grated daikon radish, pickled ginger, and some toasted nori. I am having leftovers for lunch today, and am pretty darn excited about it, if I do say so. While finding 100% buckwheat soba isn’t easy (I had to visit Whole Foods – most soba in the American groceries is a blend of wheat and buckwheat flour), I am definitely going to pick up some more when I find it again. I love the nutty, earthy flavor of the noodles.

All in all, another delicious Daring Cooks’ challenge completed! What’s even better – this has inspired me to dig further into Japanese cuisine. I’m overdue for an adventure!

Gluten-Free Tempura

1 egg yolk

1 c iced water

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/2 c tapioca starch

1/2 t baking powder

Oil for deep frying

Ice water bath, for the tempura batter

Very cold vegetables and seafood – you can choose from: blanched and cooled sweet potato slices, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, pumpkin, onions, shrimp, etc.

Place the iced water in a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura. Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready. Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop. Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor. Serve immediately for best flavor.

Gluten-Free Spicy Dipping Sauce

¾ c spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
3 T gluten-free soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
½ t agave nectar
¼ t English mustard powder
1 T grape-seed oil
1 T sesame oil
1/2 t ground  black pepper 

Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

Gluten-Free Soba Salad

2 quarts + 1 c cold water, divided

12 oz 100% buckwheat noodles

Cooking the noodles:

  1. Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.
  2. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool. This not only stops the cooking process, but also removes the starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside allowing them to cool completely.
  3. 

Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce

2 c Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores and you can make your own. Recipe is HERE.) Or a basic vegetable stock.

1/3 c gluten-free soy sauce

1/3 c mirin (sweet rice wine)

Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

I served the soba noodles by placing some cold noodles in a bowl, and ladling some of the sauce over. I topped with crumbled nori, egg omelet strips, grated raw daikon radish, pickled ginger, and some green onions. You can top with any of the following: thin omelet strips, boiled chicken breasts, ham, cucumber, boiled bean sprouts, tomatoes, toasted nori, green onions, wasabi powder, grated daikon, pickled ginger, etc. Everything should be finely grated, diced, or julienned.

Kids in the Kitchen: Shrimp Scampi

P1010011Yesterday, Brittany began the second round of “Kids in the Kitchen”. This past week, she did not know what she wanted to prepare for her night in the kitchen. In an effort to help her generate ideas, I provided a few cookbooks. I was busy, so I wasn’t going through them with her at first. After a few minutes, she informed me she wanted to make soup…and showed me a berry soup recipe. Wonderful and tasty, I’m sure, but I had to explain to her that berry soup doesn’t really work as a dinner. (of course, I have a feeling that she and I would be happy with that for a light dinner, but we’re talking about feeding some hungry teenage boys here as well!) So she instead found herself in the seafood section, and found a shrimp scampi recipe. It’d be her second shrimp dish, but you’ll hear no complaints from me! She originally only wanted to serve bread with it. Knowing that again, certain boys in the house would be able to put away a pound of shrimp a piece (if I let them), causing this to become a high-priced meal, I encouraged her to come up with another side dish or two to round out the meal. (Besides, still working with the gluten-free diet, I would have otherwise ended up with only shrimp for dinner. Hmm.) We ended up with steamed corn on the cob. I suggested a bit of brown rice as well. So there wasn’t really a vegetable in this meal…we’ll work on that more in future rounds.

The shrimp scampi recipe is based on a recipe from Cooking Light. Personally, I have prepared shrimp scampi sans recipe many, many times, but we opted to rely on this recipe as a guideline, for purposes of instruction and ease. My only modification was to add butter (which makes it less “light”, I realize that…) It turned out quite well, and was super-speedy to prepare. (Shrimp is a fast-cooking option for dinner, which happens to make it great for weeknights as well.) Even though we doubled the recipe, Brittany had minimal prep work to do, as the only knife work needed was chopping a bit of garlic and parsley. (I peeled and deveined the shrimp while she was attending a birthday party…is that cheating?) Within a matter of minutes, dinner was ready to eat. And eat we did! I found pretty sizeable shrimp on sale, so these babies were plump, buttery, with just the right amount of garlic and that little burst of lemon. One of my favorite ways to enjoy shrimp. Brittany and I agreed we even liked this dish better than kabobs.

P1010005

Shrimp Scampi, adapted from Cooking Light Complete Cookbook

1 T olive oil

1 T butter

1 1/2 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 c dry white wine

1/2 t kosher salt

1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

1/4 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 T fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and butter, swirling butter until it melts. Add shrimp in a single layer, saute for about a minute. Add garlic, and flip shrimp, saute for another minute. Stir in wine, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cook for 30 seconds. Add parsley and lemon juice, and toss well to coat. Cook 1 minute or until shrimp are cooked through.

Serves 4.

Kids in the Kitchen: Grilled Citrus Teriyaki Shrimp Kabobs

Food 1658Before I start on talking about the kids or shrimp kabobs, I have to tell you…

I won an award! Kelly at Evil Shenanigans so graciously shared the Premio Meme Award with me! Thank you Kelly!

premio_meme_award

Along with this award, I am to tell you seven things about my personality, and then pass the award on to seven other bloggers. The seven things about my personality will be listed after the recipe. As for the seven winners of the Premio Meme Award, they are:

Amanda at Amanda’s Cookin’

Terry B at Blue Kitchen

Dan and Joy at Gourmeted

Cindy at Jacob’s Reward

Sharon at Jefferson’s Table

Ryan at Nose to Tail at Home

Peter at Kalofagas

Every one of these bloggers has an incredible blog that I really enjoy, all for very unique reasons.

And now, onto the other reason for this post…

 I am a bit of a control freak. I admit it. When we’re going somewhere, I have to drive. I prefer that I pay the bills. (Well, let me clarify. I would prefer that the bills did not exist at all, but if they must be paid, I would like to be in charge of ensuring that they are handled.) I love to have my hands in everything in the kitchen, making sure everything is “just right”. So when the kids come into the kitchen while I’m cooking, and proclaim “I want to help!”, there are times when I don’t allow them to help as much as I should. I get wrapped up in what I’m doing, and have this crazy feeling that if I don’t do it myself, some horrible thing will happen and the dish won’t turn out. Shame on me!

I came to this realization a few weeks ago. The kids are interested in what’s going on in the kitchen. They want to be involved. From a parenting perspective, I certainly need to teach them basic kitchen skills, so that one day they might be able to survive without regular trips to McDonald’s. But most of all, they might just share in my passion for cooking, if I’d only let them, and how wonderful would that be?

With this in mind, I told John that I had decided to start teaching the kids to cook. Of course, in order for me to commit myself to this task, I decided to designate the Saturdays that we have the kids as the “Kids in the Kitchen” days. Each one of them was to select the meal they wished to prepare for the family, and we would come up with the recipe, and I’d have the ingredients ready for us on Saturday. Yesterday was the first “Kids in the Kitchen” Saturday, and it was Brittany’s turn to cook. She chose Shrimp Kabobs.

This recipe, compared to a lot of others she could have chosen, was relatively simple to prepare, as there were relatively few ingredients, and a short marinade time. (I did “cheat” more than I usually would on a recipe, and used bottled teriyaki sauce, in order to simplify the dish.) It would actually be a great weeknight dinner, and a relatively healthy one at that. The citrus teriyaki marinade is a wonderful combination of sweet, salty, and spicy, which perfectly compliments the succulent shrimp without overwhelming them. Add the grilled factor, and you have a colorful, fresh, flavorful meal, excellent for spring or summer!

Brittany zesting an orange

Brittany zesting an orange

When asked, Brittany said that the hardest part of preparing the meal was cutting the onion and bell pepper. (We’re just beginning to learn knife skills.) She really enjoyed putting everything on skewers, however, and of course, loved eating it! This recipe would serve 6-8 people easily, unless you have teenage boys, and then, maybe 5 people. (Let’s just say our middle son, Brandan, enjoyed the dish a little too much.) We served the kabobs with steamed jasmine rice, and the simmered marinade as a sauce on the side. The best part, in my opinion, was that I actually really enjoyed teaching, rather than doing, with Brittany. We both had a lot of fun. I suppose I don’t have to be a control freak all of the time!

 

1 c Kikkoman’s Teriyaki Marinade

Juice from one orange

Zest from one orange

¼ t crushed red pepper

2 cans pineapple chunks, drained, ¼ c juice reserved

2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

 

 Also needed: skewers

 

If skewers are wooden, soak in water for at least 30 minutes. This will help prevent the skewers from catching on fire.

 Mix Teriyaki sauce, orange juice, orange zest, reserved pineapple juice, and red pepper to create marinade. Place in large Ziploc bag, and add shrimp to marinade. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove shrimp from marinade. Place marinade in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Keep warm while you prepare the remainder of the dish.

 Thread shrimp, bell peppers, onions, and pineapple onto skewers.

Grill kabobs over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes each side, until shrimp turn pink.

 Serve simmered marinade as an accompaniment.

 

Okay, as I mentioned above, here are the seven things about my personality.

1. Not athletic. I try to be. (I play amatuer indoor soccer) I am just a bit envious of those that actually are. But this is something I have accepted, that I am a bit more of a klutz than an athlete, and so I enjoy myself.

2. Boring. I would prefer most times, to be at home with my family, in the kitchen cooking, reading (about food or cooking), and getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Not a party girl. See? Boring.

3. Analytical. Not all the time, of course, being in the kitchen allows me freedom to use my creativity. But during the day? I’m paid to be analytical. What’s bad about analytical? When I over-analyze…which I have been known to do.

4. Emotional. I have always been the one that is most likely to cry at a sad movie. I am quick to tears, even if they’re angry tears, sad tears, or happy tears. I used to dislike this attribute, but as I grow older, I realize I don’t mind showing my emotions so much. Of course, there’s always a time and place…

5. Talkative. My husband teases me sometimes about this one…that I have a comment about everything. Maybe that makes sense, as now I have a blog, where I can share what I want to say to all of you?

6. Easy-going. I know, that kind of conflicts with “control freak”. But I really don’t like drama, and I would much rather let the small stuff slide off of my back, rather than let it bother me.

7. Stubborn. If something does matter to me, I like to have it my way. Maybe that’s where the “control freak” part fits in.

Well, that’s it! Aren’t you excited?

Otsu (or Fiery Lemon Ginger Soba Noodles with Shrimp)

food-1446I came across this recipe a few weeks ago, when I first purchased Super Natural Cooking, a wonderful book by Heidi Swanson of www.101cookbooks.com. It looked intriguing. Apparently, this dish comes from a little restaurant near where Heidi lives called Pomelo. I love Asian foods (in case you haven’t already figured that out by my numerous Asian-inspired posts), but this recipe used buckwheat noodles, an ingredient I have seen in other recipes and in stores, but had yet to try for myself. And then, after reading Jaden’s version of the recipe on www.steamykitchen.com, and considering her suggestion to substitute shrimp for the tofu, I decided I was dilly-dallying around for too long, and I made a point to make it this week. And as usual, Heidi didn’t disappoint! I could eat bucketloads of this stuff. Seriously. I had more than my fair share for dinner last night, and I have packed a healthy amount of leftovers for lunch today.  As you’ll see, on a last-minute whim, I added the sliced kumquats, only because I found them at the store that afternoon and had already gotten into them and was inspired. (Couldn’t help myself!) They make a unique contribution to this dish that I really enjoyed.

Have you ever had a kumquat? If not, I highly suggest you try to find some. They are kind of like a Crybaby candy in your mouth. (Remember those?) You bite into them, and at first, they’re sour – like pucker-your-face-up sour. But then, the juicy, citrusy, sweet flesh on the inside gushes over your tongue, and floods your mouth with happy deliciousness! (Okay, so they’re really better than the candy, because they’re not artificial-tasting, but you get my drift.) You can find them in some Asian groceries, or at Whole Foods. I actually found them at Wal-Mart…a place I’m not usually shopping for produce…but there is a Neighborhood Wal-Mart on my way home from work that has a huge amount of Asian produce available. It’s rather unique. So when I happened by the kumquats, I grabbed them.

So, without further adieu, I bring you Ostu, by way of Heidi Swanson and Jaden Hair, originally from Rolf Bachmann who I have decided is a genius to create this dish.

Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 inch section of ginger, peeled and grated
1 T honey
3/4 t cayenne
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c rice vinegar
1/3 c soy sauce
2 T olive oil
2 T toasted sesame oil

12 ounces dried soba noodles
1 T olive oil
8 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined

Salt and pepper

¼ c cilantro, chopped

½ cucumber, peeled and seeded, sliced thinly

5 kumquats, sliced thinly
1/4 c toasted sesame seeds

Additional chopped cilantro for garnish

 

To make the dressing, combine the lemon zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce and blend in a food processor or hand blender. Run the blender for a few seconds, until all ingredients are combined. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles until just tender, then drain.

 

While the noodles are cooking, heat up a large frying pan or wok. When hot, pour in the 1 T olive oil. Season the shrimp with a bit of salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, add the shrimp in a single layer, and cook for 2 minutes. Flip over and cook until just cooked through, about another minute or two. Remove shrimp and set aside.

 

Drain excess oil from pan/wok, remove from heat, and add the soba, cilantro, cucumber, and about ½ cup of the dressing. Toss until well combined. Add the shrimp and kumquats and toss again, and serve with sesame seeds and cilantro sprinkled on top.

 

Serves 4. Can be served warm or cold.

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Shrimp

food-9541Years ago, I bought a Cooking Light cookbook, thinking I would make healthy recipes and they would be delicious. After attempting a few, I decided I didn’t really like Cooking Light recipes. Not sure if it was my lack of experience in the kitchen at the time, or perhaps Cooking Light has significantly improved their recipes, but now, they have some pretty good, simple, weeknight recipes available! This recipe came together in about 30 – 40 minutes. I did make some modifications, I added ginger and sesame oil, and omitted most of the sugar. I also didn’t add chopped peanuts at the end, but I probably will next time…I just didn’t have any at the house. This recipe makes 4 servings…the original recipe quoted about 420 calories per serving (which I couldn’t believe, it felt so filling!). Mine might be a wee bit more than that, with the addition of oils, but that tasty addition of sesame oil to me was well worth it!

Peanut Sauce:

1/3 c creamy peanut butter

1/3 c water

2 T tamari or soy sauce

1 ½ T rice vinegar

2 t sambal oelek (chili paste)

Pinch sugar

½ t sesame oil

 

Shrimp:

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ t minced ginger

1 t cornstarch

Salt and pepper

1 T peanut oil

 

Pasta:

8 oz udon noodles (or linguine)

½ t sesame oil

 

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 chopped, seeded cucumber (do not peel)

¼ c sliced green onions

2 T cilantro, chopped

 

Lime wedges, for serving

 

To prepare the sauce, combine the peanut sauce ingredients and whisk until incorporated. The sauce should be consistency of cream, add additional water if necessary.

 

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Once cooked and drained, toss sesame oil with noodles to keep them from sticking to one another. Set aside.

 

To prepare the shrimp, mix them with the ginger, cornstarch, and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper. Let sit for a minute. Heat up a wok or large, deep skillet to medium-high heat and add the peanut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shrimp, and spread out into a single layer in the pan. Let sit, untouched, for 1-2 minutes. Flip over and continue cooking until pink, another 3 minutes or so. Remove pan from heat.

 

Add the sauce, noodles, bell pepper, and cucumber to the pan along with the shrimp. Toss to mix ingredients well (since the pan is still warm, this ought to warm up the sauce and noodles). Serve sprinkled with green onions and cilantro, with lime wedges.

Shrimp Etouffee

food-9451This past weekend, I was digging through my Emeril Lagasse cookbooks and found a perfect weeknight recipe to celebrate Fat Tuesday. I shopped and bought the ingredients so I could prepare it, and was excited. And then I was sick Monday and Tuesday, making a Fat Tuesday etouffee celebration out of the question. So here we are, post-Mardi Gras, with a Creole dish. Good thing I could eat this stuff all the time! As always, Emeril’s recipes deliver. Flavorful, with a bit of heat. I made it as written, only halved the recipe, and minced the onion, bell pepper, and celery, as I like to taste the blend of those vegetables a bit more, rather than tasting each individual veggie, as you would if they were chopped. They meld together so well for a beautiful sauce. I also made steamed brown rice for a bit of fiber. Yummy!

¾ stick of butter (6 T)

2 c onion, minced

1 c bell pepper, minced

1 c celery, minced

1 t minced garlic

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 t salt

¼ t cayenne

1 T flour

1 c water

3 T chopped parsley

¼ c chopped green onion

 

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add the shrimp, salt, and cayenne and cook for 4 minutes, or until shrimp turn pink.

 

Dissolve flour into the water and add to the shrimp mixture. Stir until the mixture thickens slightly. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and green onion. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Serve over steamed rice.