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Appetizers

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp

December 18, 2018

I am reposting this from a few years ago, first because these shrimp are SO good, and also because when I read this post it is clear that I was equally stressed out two years ago at this time, which is oddly making me feel better. Like I have solidarity with myself from two years ago. Maybe you are on the hunt for quick delicious apps, or solidarity too. If so, enjoy! I also just posted my favorite Christmas Eve for a crowd dinner on Instagram, a Mac & Cheese bar, and lots of you were as equally in love with that idea as we are, so check out that post here.

So, between finalizing edits on my novel, my husband’s work Christmas parties, and all the decorating and gift giving, I feel like I am in college finals or maybe a Zen Buddhist video game: be serene. be patient. know the reason for the season. Also, your kids need Seasonal hats for hat day today, your husband is wondering why you bought all the candle lights for the windows if you aren’t going to put them up, and (cackling laughter) NONE of the gifts you picked out on Amazon for the cousins will be here in time for Christmas, even though they said Prime next to it, and you need to head to the mall STAT. Plus you are hosting Christmas for like 30 people.

It is easing all of my angst to find recipes that are quick and yummy, and I am sharing them with you on the off chance that you are in a similar state? No?

Let’s start with this Garlicky Roasted Shrimp recipe, shall we?

 

It is from Cook’s Illustrated, and honestly, it looked so good from the (black and white) photo it was all I could dream about after I saw it. I was thrilled to find out that it only takes 10 MINUTES to make. And it is so so good. There’s a whole sidebar in the magazine about how the brining keeps it moist and the shells on make all the proteins and sugars contribute to savory depth of flavor…in short, JUST KNOW THEY ARE SO GOOD.

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About the only thing you may have to contribute as far as prep/effort is if your shrimp don’t come already de-veined. If that is the case you will have to put little elbow grease in but mine came deveined and ready to brine. I didn’t have any anise seeds and omitted them, though I did add some salt. And the other variations below – Peruvian and Asian-inspired – look dreamy too.

Hope you are staying warm (and sane). Happy Eating/Cooking/Wrapping/Making Merry!

Xoxo, Katie

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp (From Cook’s Illustrated, printer version here): 

1/4 cup salt

2 pounds shell-on jumbo shrimp (16-to-20 per pound)

4 T. butter, melted

1/2 cup vegetable oil

6 garlic cloves

1 t. anise seeds (optional)

½ t. red pepper flakes

1/2 t. Salt

¼ t. pepper

2 T.  fresh parsley, chopped

1 lemon, sliced into wedges for serving

  1. Defrost shrimp overnight in refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water for 30-45 minutes.
  2. If you are able to find non-deveined shrimp, then use kitchen shears or a paring knife to cut through the shell and use a paring knife to cut to 1/2″ deep and remove the vein. (Mine were already deveined). Leave the shell on for protection against the hot broiler. Add 1 quart of water to a large bowl and dissolve 1/4-cup of table salt, and place the deveined shrimp to brine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. Set an oven rack so that it is 4″ from the broiler heating element, and begin to pre-heat the broiler. In a second large bowl, add butter, vegetable oil, pressed garlic, anise seeds, pepper flakes, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. Drain shrimp and pat them dry using paper towels. Add shrimp and parsley to bowl containing the oil mixture, and toss to combine, ensuring that oil gets worked into the inside of the shrimp.
  5. Place shrimp in single layer on wire rack set over a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. The wire rack will allow air-flow around the entire shrimp. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, rotating half-way through broiling.
  6. Flip the shrimp and broil the second side for 2 to 3 minutes more, again rotating the pan halfway through broiling.
  7. Put cooked shrimp on a clean serving platter and and serve immediately, with lemon wedges.

Other variations:

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp with Cilantro and Lime

Omit butter and increase vegetable oil to ½ cup. Omit anise seeds and pepper. Add 2 t. Lightly crushed coriander seeds, 2 t grated lime zest, 1 t. Annatto powder to oil mixture in step 2. Substitute ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro for parsley and lime for lemon wedges.

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp with Cumin, Ginger, and Sesame

Omit butter and increase vegetable oil to ½ cup. Decrease garlic to 2 cloves and omit anise seeds and pepper. Add 2 t. Toasted sesame oil, 1 ½ t. Grated fresh ginger, and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds to oil mixture in step 2. Substitute 2 thinly sliced scallion greens for parsley and omit lemon wedges.

From Cook’s Illustrated Special Collector’s Edition of Winter Recipes 2017 edition

 

Mushroom + Goat Cheese Fritatta

October 25, 2018

I love frittatas so much – they are such a blank canvas that you can do anything with.

But I have a soft spot for this combo of mushrooms and goat cheese – that tang from the goat cheese with the umami from the mushrooms – such great flavors.

Making one feels like the same amount of work as scrambled eggs or an omelet. It takes maybe 10 minutes longer, but then you have a delicious breakfast or lunch waiting for you for the rest of the week. Of course you could make this for 6-8 people and I do! Sometimes. But I often just make one for me (plus the babies love frittatas now too!) for a very quick breakfast or lunch during the week that is so satisfying.

They also are the perfect meatless meals. Once or twice a week we try to skip out on meat for the day, and although pizza usually fills the dinner time slot, this is a great dish any meal that day. The mushrooms are kind of meaty, the eggs full of protein. It makes you so satisfied after you eat it you won’t miss meat or carbs.

And at the risk of blowing your mind, I recently saw Ina Garten make a frittata in a baking sheet pan, then cut it into squares as an appetizer for a party. It instantly made dozens of filling apps and the effort was so minimal. If you tripled this recipe, you have that amazing option too.

I learned the weirdest fact about mushrooms – they actually taste better if they are slightly wilted/old/looking pretty soggy. Somehow the flavor concentrates as they are aging. So don’t be afraid to use some that look like they are on their way to the nursing home. (Mold or bad smells should be trashed of course).

In addition to mushrooms and goat cheese I also love leeks and shallots, so I used those instead of onions, though they are inter-changable. Unless you’re feeling the French ingredient vibe like I was apparently. I wrote this recipe how I made it – to speed it up I cooked the mushrooms in a separate pan, so they didn’t get crowded. Sometimes I even cook a bunch of mushrooms ahead and use them up through the week in things like omelets, salads, or frittatas. I always add tarragon to them while they are sautéing since tarragon brings out great mushroom flavor.

Then I add them back to the pan with the leeks and shallots and pour the egg over them, then crumble the goat cheese and the chopped parsley over the top.

Let it set for a few minutes, then slide it into a preheated oven. You’ll know it is done when you touch the center and it is cooked, not wet. In less than 15 minutes you’ll have this:

Hope you find a way to make this for a great weekend breakfast, or if you’re like me, just make it for yourself and you’ll have a weeks worth of amazing, fast, healthy meals. Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Mushroom + Goat Cheese Frittata

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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cooking Time: 10-13 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 8 oz packages of mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon, dried (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced (or 1 large)
  • 1 leek, white parts only, chopped
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Pepper
  • 3-4 oz. of goat cheese (feta or gruyere work too)
  • Handful of chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat, then add butter. When it’s melted, then add mushrooms, tarragon, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 7-10 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and slightly browned and fragrant. (I cook these separate so the pan doesn’t get too crowded, other wise the mushrooms steam instead of sauté.)

3

In a second pan, heat olive oil, and add shallots and leeks with a pinch of salt. Stir to avoid browning too quickly, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan when they are cooked.

4

In a bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. eggs and season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Pour eggs over leeks and shallots, then add the goat cheese and parsley evenly throughout. Cook, undisturbed, until edges are set, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until top of frittata is just set, 10 to 13 minutes.

5

Invert or slide frittata onto a plate and cut into 6 wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Blood Orange Salad

June 1, 2017

This season you can find Blood Oranges in the grocery stores, and if you have ever wondered what to do with them (besides juice them and turn them into sangria or buy some of the packaged fizzy blood orange drinks and also turn them into sangria) this salad will help you out. They are segmented for the salad and used in the dressing, and their unique flavor just permeates this salad. But even if they weren’t in season I would still be craving them since I can’t seem to get enough fruit, especially citrus. (I may have eaten 2 of these salads in a row and then ate a grapefruit.)

They taste like sweet oranges, and have a gorgeous jewel color:

I love the combination of citrus fruit, goat cheese, (or blue or feta) crunchy nuts and vinegary dressing. So think of this as a template, and feel free to swap the blood orange for grapefruit or oranges, and use your favorite cheese and nuts. I used Marcona Almonds with Rosemary from Trader Joes, but I am guessing that ingredient is going to be pretty hard to find elsewhere. But I have to say, there rosemary was a really good note in this salad. So feel free to mix plain Marconas with some of this herb to eat alone or add to salad.

The dressing is really easy. Once you get the hang of making vinaigrettes, it suddenly feels so freeing and the possibilities seem endless. Basics are a 3:1 ratio oil to acid, but I actually prefer mine a little lighter and usually keep it 2:1. But the official stance on vinaigrettes is 3:1. If you want a little ‘tutorial’ I just found this post  ‘7 Tips for Making the Perfect Vinaigrette’  that is really helpful, I highly recommend looking it over if you are curious about making your own salad dressing.

I used both blood orange and red wine vinegar here, Dijion, salt and pepper are a must, since you are usually trying to season a lot of veggies and salt brings out all the other flavors. And I found that often times when my vinaigrette needed something it was usually a little sweetness to counter-balance the acidity, and a little Agave syrup or sugar does the trick.

This is such a great first course to a dinner party, or to make a big salad for a party. But it is also great for lunch for 1 or 2, and I have kept the recipe to serve 2. Don’t wait for an invitation to make this – it is too good!

 

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Blood Orange Salad (printer version here): 

Ingredients for Dressing:

Juice from 1 blood orange (2 T)

1 T red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon

1 tsp. agave syrup

S&P

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Ingredients for 2 Salad Servings:

2 blood orange segmented

4 c. Mixed Greens

2 oz goat cheese

1/2 cup Marcona almonds

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together for dressing, saving oil for the last. Stream oil in, whisking as it is added. Taste with a piece of lettuce to check for seasonings, adding more in needed.

Assemble salad with greens on the bottom. Add dressing just before serving.

 

 

Creamy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

March 8, 2017


CREAMY STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

This poor food blog is so neglected you may be wondering, does she even care about us anymore? Does she even care about food?

The answer is yes, and yes. But if you haven’t heard yet, I’ve been distracted by a certain book release next month and some other news that I will share soon! We also went north for New Hampshire’s February break to go skiing and I forgot my laptop. Turns out the break was really needed – I’ve been glued to it and it was nice to take a real break, and to connect with family and friends in the flesh after we’ve been hibernating all winter.

Since the last time we’ve chatted, Lent snuck up on us, as it always does (except for the Mardi Gras part, which totally gets our attention because hello, party). The one thing I do every Lent that I usually stick with 100% is giving up meat on Friday. Because of this, I thought I would come up with a few recipes that use meatless ingredients but still feel like a meal. Today I am giving you my favorite new recipe: Creamy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms.

I love portabella mushrooms. In the summer, I soak them in some balsamic, olive oil, s&p and diced garlic clove in a zip lock bag, and then grill them. Inside two hamburger buns, with some blue cheese or lettuce and tomato, you hardly even notice you don’t have meat in your meal.

But this recipe – I’ve made it a few times, and every time I love it more. You know how good stuffed mushrooms are as hors d’oeuvres? Well, imagine sitting down with a knife and fork to a plate of these all your own.

You start by roasting the portabellas with garlic, salt and pepper. Then you start make the filling by sautéing smaller mushrooms with garlic and butter.

You add these dairy beauties:

The ideas is to create a thick creamy sauce, and ricotta does that in a jiffy, along with the melted fontina. You can use milk to thin it out but the cream (I have made it with half and half but this time I had whipping cream) is what gives this dish its decadence, I think.  If you don’t have ricotta, you can easily make a sauce starting with a roux, which is roughly whisking 2 T. butter + 2 T. flour  for a few minutes, then mixing in 2 cups of milk, plus the cheese but it takes longer and I think the flavor is much better with the ricotta. Also this sauce would be amazing mixed with some pasta for another meal idea.

Then, you add the remaining cheese and broil it until the cheese is browned, about 5-7 minutes.

Creamy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms (printer version here): 
Creamy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms:

4 Mushroom Caps
2 T. olive oil
s&p
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 T. butter
½ t. tarragon
2 cloves diced garlic, divided
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cream or half and half (or milk)
1 cup grated fontina, gruyere, or monterey jack (good melting cheese), divided
2 sprigs of thyme (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place Portabella caps on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, 1 t. salt and ¼ t. pepper and 1 diced garlic clove. Roast in oven for 20 minutes.

While those cook, heat large frying pan on medium high heat. Add butter and melt. Add mushrooms, garlic and ½ t. salt, ¼ t. Pepper, being careful not to crowd pan or they will steam – use two pans if needed. Saute until fragrant and soft, about 10 minutes.

Add ricotta, cream, and ½ cup shredded cheese, and stir until combined and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Take mushroom caps out of oven and let cool for 1 minute.

Add creamy mixture to mushroom caps, then cover with remaining ½ cup cheese and a few thyme leaves. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is browned to preferrence. (I love the cheese when it is very cooked).

(Serve with pasta or wild rice and peas.)

Holiday Cheese Ball {3 Ways}

November 22, 2016

We’re going retro on this post and I love it.

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The Holiday Cheeseball is a classic, like bacon and dates, shrimp and cocktail sauce, chicken on a stick with peanut satay. They all say “grab a rum and coke and take a deep breath”. They’re not new ways to wow people but rather old favorites that invite everyone to put their hair down and relax, like piano ballads or cult movies. They’re feel good and you have fun with them.

They’re also really easy. I’m convinced these were invented because someone was scrambling to make something for a holiday party and looked in their fridge. The ingredients are what we pretty much have in our bare bones state + still thriving herb pot.

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The combo my mom made most frequently growing up involves a stick of butter, a package of cream cheese, gorgonzola and garlic. (Feel free to use less butter if you are offended.) Salt, pepper and Worchester help all those flavors mingle and the result is the most pungent and umami sensation. Creamy and salty with a kick from the garlic and the blue cheese. Use more or less depending on how much you love it.

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I recommend either setting out the dairy to become soft, or warming in the microwave (watching carefully) for 30-60 seconds. The hand mixer helps everything distribute evenly but feel free to trust your folding skills with a spatula.

Then chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes, letting the flavors develop. When it is a little firm, mold it into a ball with plastic wrap and set in the fridge until the butter hardens and it keeps its shape. Then you can roll it in the chopped parsley.

 

 

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Here are three easy versions of this, but feel free to think about your favorite ingredients and try them out. But the Holiday Cheese ball begs to be a vehicle for different flavor profiles: Olives + nuts, capers + salmon + dill, sundried tomatoes + basil.

They also love to be turned into things – a turkey (with sliced almond), a pumpkin (with shredded carrots). You can even stick some mistletoe in it for some holiday flare. Because we all do weird things at the holidays.

The sky is the limit friends. So I hope this helps you find a super easy way to celebrate.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

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Holiday Cheese Ball: (printer version here): 

Garlic and Gorgonzola Recipe:

1 stick of butter, softened 

1 brick of cream cheese, softened (I use ⅓ less fat)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 T. Worchestershire sauce

¼-½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola

¼ t. Salt

Let butter and cream cheese soften, or carefully soften in microwave being sure not to melt butter. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix with a hand mixer or very thoroughly with a spatula. Chill for 30 minutes in bowl. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for another 30 minutes or until firm. Roll in chopped parsley or other favorite herbs.

Bacon and Smoked Gouda Recipe: (I love this one!) 

Follow same recipe but instead of blue cheese, garlic, and parsley use:

½ cup shredded smoked gouda

4-6 strips of bacon crumbs

½ cup chopped smoked almonds for rolling the outside (or enough to coat cheese ball)

(You can use parsley if you want it nut free)

Herb Goat Cheese Ball:

Follow same recipe but instead of blue cheese use:

4 oz. goat cheese

½ cup finely chopped red peppers (or ¼ cup red, ¼ green for Christmas)

3 T. each chopped parsley, chives, basil for rolling 

Swiss Pumpkin

October 20, 2016

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Now that the leaves are starting to look like the color of pumpkins, I am so excited to share this recipe that I actually guest posted on the Ella Claire Blog last year. It is so so good.

I found this recipe in Ruth Reichl’s food memoir Comfort Me with Apples (a sequel to Tender at the Bone). I am a big fan of food memoirs at the moment since I am writing one of my own about growing up in a big Irish family in Chicago (I am one of eight) and we had a huge passion for food. In Comfort Me with Apples, one of the lasting images I had was how her husband said he wanted a divorce, and all she could do was make Cream of Mushroom soup. I just feel like food does that healing thing. She ended up being the editor for Gourmet Magazine and remarrying and having a son. So her story ends well.image

Happily, when I made this recipe it was a great story. I made it for my husband for a date night at home. The smell when you take this out of the oven is like nothing else – a mix between pumpkin pie, creamy squash soup, and French onion soup. The fragrance will transport you. After we took the first bite, we just looked up at each other, silent, the fire roaring, and then in unison went, “mmmmhhh”. Or something close to blubbering adults. It warms your insides like nothing I have ever had – the pillow soft pumpkin, creamy buttery soup, and nutmeg infused bread tastes like heaven, all mixed with the saltiness of the gruyere cheese. It is such a special dish. The best part? I wrote all this a year ago, and I can still go back to that exact moment we tasted this and I am there.

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This dish is perfect for Holiday parties or special family winter dinners. I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year but if I was, everyone should start with a little Swiss Pumpkin on their plate. But it also seems like something you could easily bring to a family with an illness or a new baby since it has its own (disposable) transporting vehicle.

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I hope you get to taste it. Or at least read Ruth Reichl. Happy fall everyone!

xoxo, Katie

Savory Baked Pumpkin (serves 4) 

**Slightly altered from Ruth Reichl’s original recipe.

2 small pumpkins (about 6 – 8 inches in diameter)

Sliced French bread; several pieces, toasted

Grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (about 4 oz)

Half and half, about 2 cups

2 eggs

1 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. pepper

1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg (makes all the difference)

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top off of your pumpkin leaving the stem intact. With a spoon, scrape out the innards of the pumpkin and discard. (You can reserve the seeds if you like for a latter use.)

Next, rinse the pumpkin both inside and out and pat dry. Place a layer of your toasted bread on the very bottom of the pumpkin cavity. If you need to break up your toasted bread to fit, that is fine. You just want a light layer; you do not need to pack it in. Over the top of your bread sprinkle a bit of your cheese; just enough to cover the bread. You will want to repeat this until you fill the cavity of the pumpkin to its rim, about 2-3 times.

Then, pour the half and half mixture over the layered bread and cheese and into the pumpkin cavity. I like to do this slowly to be sure the half and half is filling in the crevices and not ready to overflow the pumpkin filling. Place the pumpkin top you cut off back onto the pumpkin and place on a baking sheet.

Finally, place the pumpkin on the baking sheet into the center of your oven for about 2 hours. Your baking time will depend on the size of your pumpkin and how much you fill it, so I always check it after one and a half hours of baking. You want to bake it until a knife can easily pierce through the flesh of your pumpkin. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and wait about 15 minutes before serving.