Sunday, June 17, 2007

Grilled Chipotle Shrimp! And Coconut-Rum Birthday Cake

Again, my apologies. I haven’t been keeping up nearly as much with this blog as I should. But soon it will be too hot to do much of anything else but sit under the ceiling fan and type. Then I can get to some of the archived recipes.

One such recipe comes from last week—

It felt like a Caribbean evening—guacamole with tortilla chips and mango daiquiris for an appetizer, grilled chipotle shrimp over rice with grilled veggies for dinner. Ah, summer!

We love this shrimp recipe. It’s very simple and produces incredibly flavorful, spicy shrimp with a minimum of prep work. I threaded chunks of zucchini and onions, and grape tomatoes on skewers and grilled those as well. Add some steamed rice and—dinner!

Grilled Chipotle Shrimp

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon chopped chipotles chilies canned in adobo (use some of the adobo sauce in that tablespoon, too)

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled & deveined

Mix the marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, add shrimp, toss to coat. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 1-3 hours.

Thread shrimp on skewers (leave a little bit of space between, no jamming them all together on a couple of skewers!). Grill over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, turning once.

Jack’s birthday was 9 days ago and that meant his favorite dishes for two birthday dinners (one earlier in the week, one on his “official” birthday). And, of course, two desserts! Birthday cake #1 was my favorite, and fairly easy as well—I call it Coconut Rum Cake. Here’s a photo. It looks like a chocolate-chip cake but those are pieces of chocolate frosting that clung to the face of the white cake. I should have brushed them off before photographing, but I was too busy eating…

First, I used a boxed white cake mix (Betty Crocker Super Moist). I used the egg whites and canola oil called for in the directions, but instead of 1¼ cups water, I measured 2/3 cup of coconut rum in a 2-cup measuring cup and filled to the 1¼ cup line with water. And I also added 1 teaspoon of coconut extract. This I baked in two 8” layer pans.

The frosting is by far the best chocolate buttercream I’ve ever made. Was it becauseI spiked the mixture with dark rum? In any case, if I knew that I was going to die tomorrow, I’d mix up a big bowl of this tonight and eat it all! Yes, there’s a lotta butter in there! But it was for a special occasion, so we threw caution to the wind.

Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

(source unknown)

¾ cup butter, softened

1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

3 ¾ cups sifted powdered sugar

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

dash salt

⅓ cup lowfat half & half

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and melted chocolate with a hand mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. Sift together powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with whipping cream until well-mixed (about 2 minutes). Stir in corn syrup and dark rum with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Makes about 3 cups; enough to frost a 9” layer cake or 18 cupcakes

(I used it to frost an 8” 2-layer cake and had enough left over to pipe decorations and, well, eat some…)

To assemble the cake, I brushed each layer with additional coconut rum before frosting. Of course I did that for the flavor, but I found that the loose crumbs seemed to be reduced to a minimum and the cake was so easy to frost.

I desperately want to make this cake again soon... ;)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Chicken and Papaya Stir-Fry

A 15-mile bike ride this morning and 4 hours in the garden this afternoon—not much time (or desire) to cook anything for dinner. But I received a new Food & Wine magazine yesterday and was leafing through it at lunch when I came across this recipe. Imagine… I actually had both a ripe papaya and poblano peppers. This combination is unusual and I took it as a “sign” that this would be our dinner. :)

My alterations to the original recipe: used light soy sauce instead of regular, and decreased the second measurement (the one tablespoon not in the marinade) to 2 teaspoons; used 8 ounces chicken; since I was using my nonstick electric wok, I decreased the oil to ½ teaspoon; omitted the scallion.

I served this over steamed basmati rice with steamed snow peas tossed with a soy-ginger dressing on the side. Jack and I both gave it two thumbs-up. He asked “how much papaya is left?”, I replied that I had only used half, and he commented “well, I wouldn’t mind this for dinner again tomorrow.” No, dear, there’s a papaya and black bean salad planned for the rest of that tropical fruit!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chicken and Papaya Stir-Fry

Recipe By : Food & Wine July 2007

Serving Size : 4

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons dry white wine -- (I used dry sherry)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast -- cut into 1" pieces

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small onion -- thickly sliced

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 large garlic clove -- minced

1 whole poblano pepper -- (or Anaheim chile), thickly sliced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1 pound papaya -- peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2" x 3" strips

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

1 large scallion -- sliced

In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, wine, and cornstarch. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

Heat the oil in a wok or a large skillet over moderately high heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the poblano and crushed red pepper and continue stir-frying until the peppers have softened, about 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Transfer the chicken to a platter.

Add the orange juice ot the wok and boil until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the wok, add the papaya, and stir-fry until hot, about one minute. Add the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a platter. Garnish with scallion.

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Per serving: 227 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat; (20% calories from fat); 28g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 66mg Cholesterol; 508mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Monday, June 4, 2007

Fish tacos, chilled vegetable soup

Muggy, muggy, muggy. We had several very hot and humid days in a row and I’m wondering if somehow time has skipped ahead to late July or August. Technically, it’s still spring and there are many things to do, but I feel like I get very little accomplished during the day lately. Work outside until I can’t stand the heat, come in the house and sit beside a fan for a while. Repeat.

These days, I live to grill. :) Without air conditioning, this little brick oven of a house can get quite steamy in the summer and, while baking is strictly a no-no, I also turn off my stove at the gas supply because the 11 pilot lights can contribute to the heat as well. This is the same stove that contributes much-needed heat in the winter months, so I can’t complain about it.

This menu was perfect for a hot summer day. Lime juice was squeezed over tilapia fillets then grilled. These were placed on a steamed corn tortilla with a spoonful of cilantro-cabbage coleslaw over the fish. I can’t believe that I once thought of fish tacos as “weird”! I swear, if I lived alone, I’d still make a full recipe and sit and eat it all and enjoy every bite until I burst.

Served alongside was a spicy and cold vegetable soup. Although not fond of cold soup, Jack really enjoyed this one (probably because it was spicy) and had a second bowl. I used yellow bell peppers instead of red, so the soup was a nice golden color. I also cut the amount of olive oil in half and decreased the amount of cilantro drastically since Jack doesn’t like it. I sprinkled extra on my serving because I love cilantro! I added a few shakes of ground dried chipotle chili as well.

Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

Servings: 4

Amount Measure Ingredient Preparation Method

---------- ---------- ------------ ------------------------

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

4 whole sea bass fillets

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

8 whole corn tortillas

2 cups shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper

1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds toasted, ground

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tomato cut into thin wedges

Sprinkle one tablespoon lime juice over the fish, then sprinkle with seasoned salt. Coat with cooking spray. Place on a grill over hot coals. Grill for 4 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily. Wrap tortillas in foil and place at the back of the grill until heated through.

Combine the cabbage, 1 tablespoon lime juice, cilantro, green onions, chile, mayonnaise, cumin seeds, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well. Stir tomato in gently.

Cut each fish fillet into 8 pieces. Place a piece of fish in each tortilla. Spoon slaw over and roll up.


"Whole Foods"

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Per serving: 260 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat; (17% calories from fat); 27g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 54mg Cholesterol; 669mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 3 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Other fish fillets can be subbed for sea bass-- snapper, roughy, tilapia are a few. Avoid strong flavored fish such as salmon or mackerel.

Cut fish before grilling and skewer to make grilling easier.

Farmers’ Market Chilled Salsa Soup

Serves 8

Buy the freshest from-the-farm vegetables you can find for this invigorating cold soup. If ripe tomatoes and hot chiles are available, make your own salsa, or purchase your favorite brand—that it’s already in the jar makes it easier to take on a picnic.

4 large cucumbers, peeled
4 green bell peppers, seeded
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups diced scallions (about 2 bunches)
1/2 cup Mexican-style canned mild green chiles
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups salsa for garnish

1. Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise, and slice into chunks. Dice green peppers. Place cucumbers, peppers, cilantro, scallions and green chiles in blender or food processor, and process until smooth.

2. Add garlic, vinegar, salt and olive oil, and mix well. Add water, taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and vinegar. Add more water to thin soup if needed.

3. Fill two ice-cube trays with soup, and freeze overnight. Chill remainder. Pack frozen cubes with chilled soup in large insulated containers. At serving time, pour soup into cups, and top with large spoonful of salsa.

Per Serving: 130 CAL; 3 G PROT; 7 G TOTAL FAT (1 SAT. FAT); 16 G CARB.; 0 MG CHOL; 690 MG SOD.; 5 G FIBER; 7 G SUGARS

(Source Unknown)

I know that I complain a lot about the work and the heat, but I just love living on the farm. Two years ago I divided the water lilies in our goldfish pond and, having way too many to use, I advertised in the Pennysaver that they were “free to good homes”. One man came by to pick a few up and gave me some cannas which he had divided from his garden. They made a gorgeous screen between the driveway and patio that year (alas, I forgot to dig them up in the fall so they froze…). A woman gave me some Siberian iris which she had divided from her garden. These have survived. So well that I had to move them earlier this spring to a larger area.

How beautiful!