Shrimp Risotto

We boiled up several pounds of shrimp the other day and froze what we didn’t eat in pint bags. My girlfriend had given me some arborio rice last time I saw her and I thought making risotto would be super comforting as the weather is starting to turn colder.

If you’re starting with raw shrimp, just sauté the peeled and deveined shrimp in butter until pink and then set aside until the rice is ready.

My folks aren’t white wine fans, so there wasn’t any in the house. If you are, add a half cup to the shrimp when you sauté them and a cup to the softened onion before adding the rice and serve the rest of the bottle with the meal.

However you do it, make some risotto soon – it is as delicious as it looks.

Shrimp Risotto

5-6 cups unsalted chicken broth
¼ cup butter (half stick), unsalted
1 cup onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
zest and juice a lemon half
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese

Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or other heavy saucepan. Sauté the onion until softened and golden, about 5 minutes over medium heat. Toss in the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add in the arborio rice and stir until well coated and begins to smell slightly nutty, about 3 minutes.

Traditionally, you add the warmed chicken broth one cup a time and stir until absorbed before adding the next. I cheat and add all the broth at once. I give it a stir and cover and simmer for 20 minutes, coming back and stirring every five minutes. After 20 minutes, I add in the lemon zest and juice and continue to cook just until the rice tender but still has some bite. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss in the shrimp for them to warm up and serve with some grated parmesan cheese.

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

While Hurricane Sally was inching her way closer, I needed to bake something to get my mind off the storm. I decided to use some of the sourdough starter I brought with me and some of dad’s blueberries to make muffins.

I had originally done this recipe but my dad didn’t like the cornmeal in them so I went with a more traditional muffin. Using brown sugar deepens the flavor and I used a Mexican vanilla extract in this recipe as it has a cinnamon flavor that goes well with the blueberries. The cinnamon sugar on the top adds a nice crunch.

They may not be pretty but they are delicious.

My parent’s house took 16 inches of water and a foot of debris with the storm surge from Sally so I will be dealing with that for a while. As there is no power or water, I won’t be cooking unless it can be done on a propane grill or griddle at my brother-in-laws house.

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sourdough starter
½ cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
cinnamon sugar for dusting

Butter a muffin tin.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In a second bowl, beat together the starter, milk, egg, melted butter and brown sugar. Stir the wet ingredients with the dry, just until mixed. Fold in the blueberries just until blended.

Fill the cups of the buttered muffin tin; sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan and letting cool completely.

I can’t believe Sally hit on the anniversary of Ivan. My folks had gotten 18 inches in that storm and had barely moved back in before I evacuated there for Katrina (and ended up living above their garage for more than a year).

Please keep all those in the paths of these storms in your hearts. Help if you can as we can’t forget Lake Charles and the aftermath of Hurricane Laura so many are facing as well as those other storms that are heading our way.

Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers for me and my family. We are healthy and safe. The house may be uninhabitable but we are okay and will survive.

Blueberry Pound Cake With Cinnamon Sugar Crust

My new next door neighbor was trimming his palm tree and noticed that the seed pods had filled my gutter. He cleaned the gutter for me, so I’m making a pound cake for him and his wife.

As this recipe makes two loaves, it is a treat for me, too!

As I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand and didn’t feel like running to the grocery store, I basically curdled milk to get the same effect. I had that cup of cream left over from the vanilla ice cream I made, so I just added to it the zest and a tablespoon of juice from a lemon and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes. The other benefit of doing this substitution is it adds a light lemon flavor to the cake and that goes really well with blueberries.

I have a ton of frozen blueberries and they are just as good as fresh in this dish. Don’t thaw them as the juice will stain the batter too much. They’ll thaw in the cake while it cooks.

Whether you use fresh or frozen blueberries, you will want to toss them with flour (steal 2 teaspoons before you sift the flour so you don’t have too much extra flour in the final dish). This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the batter so they’ll stay distributed throughout the cake.

Just as lemon goes well with blueberries, so does cinnamon. Instead of flouring the pans, I’m dusting them lightly with cinnamon sugar and adding a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar to the top as well.

Blueberry Pound Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Crust

1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
3 cups all purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (or my substitute, see above)
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter two loaf pans and, instead of flouring them, add a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar per pan to dust the interior with sugar. Focus on the sides. It will make for a sweet crust that enhances the flavor of the blueberries.

Take 2 teaspoons of flour and toss with the blueberries. Set aside.

Sift together the remaining flour, baking power, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl and with clean beaters, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Gently stir in flour coated blueberries.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Lightly dust top of batter with remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake for 60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

One of the best things about poundcake is that it can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

I’ve been craving ice cream to go with the jar of Hot Fudge Sauce I found hidden in the very back of the fridge. I decided instead of buying ready-made, I’d make my own.

Since I’m going to take advantage of the KitchenAid Mixer ice cream maker attachment, this recipe is for a quart. That maker can make up to two quarts at a time but I don’t need that sort of temptation in my life.

I’d cut the recipe in half when using my smaller Donvier ice cream maker. If you don’t want to use half a vanilla bean, get some vanilla paste for the pretty seeds and flavor instead. It is my usual substitute when recipes call for whole vanilla pods.

After churning, be sure and freeze the ice cream to make it nice and scoopable. Of course, if you like soft serve, go ahead and eat some right away.

My house is a little warm, so my sundae began melting immediately. No problem as I just drank the creamy liquid down after I ate the ice cream.

Rich ice cream with a lovely perfume and flavor of vanilla. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find vanilla boring at all!

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out with the tip of a sharp knife
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt, more to taste

In a saucepan combine cream, milk and vanilla bean and seeds and vanilla extract. Bring mixture to a simmer. Add sugar and salt and mix until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Taste and add more sugar and salt as needed to balance the flavors. The mixture should taste slightly too sweet when warm; the sweetness will be muted when the ice cream is frozen.

Strain mixture into a container. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

Churn mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and let freeze until hard.

 

 

Garlic Buttermilk Soaked Grilled Chicken

I modified this one from a recipe on the back of the Morton Kosher Salt box. The first thing I did was move the cooking outside as it has been awfully hot and humid lately and I didn’t want to heat up the kitchen.

I’m over at my folks (I evacuated ahead of Marco and Laura) and so I ended up using dried rosemary and lemon juice. I had left a head of garlic here that was about to sprout, so I went ahead and used all of it in the brine.

The buttermilk soak makes for a tender and juicy chicken, even when portions of the drumsticks got over 185 degrees F on the grill. All the flavorings in the brine just raised the deliciousness!

The grilled sweet potato recipe is HERE.

Garlic

1 quart buttermilk
½ cup olive oil
1-2 tablespoons hot sauce, I used Louisiana hot sauce
1 head garlic (about 10 cloves), crushed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
3-4 large sprigs rosemary (about ¼ cup dried leaves)
2 lemons, thinly sliced (or 3 tablespoons lemon juice)
¼ cup honey

10 lbs chicken leg quarters

olive oil
salt and pepper

Whisk together all brine ingredients until well mixed. Add chicken to the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to two days.

Remove chicken from brine and brush off any garlic, peppercorns or rosemary leaves which may have stuck to it. Place chicken on a rack above a rimmed baking sheet. Pat dry.

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking. I use a chimney starter full of charcoal briquets spread on either side so I will be able to put the chicken down the center of my Weber grill.

Soak some hickory chips or a chunk in water.

When coals are well lit, spread out and toss in the hickory to smoke. Cover the grill and let the grate heat up. When you see smoke, it is ready to start grilling the chicken.

Rub olive oil into the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on the grill. After 15 minutes, flip chicken over and cook for 45 minutes to 60 minutes more or until a thermometer registers 175 degrees F. You may need to move chicken around to make sure it all grills evenly.

Rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Lemon Sauce for Chicken

Lunch was leftover schnitzel. I’m treating it more like chicken piccata so I needed a lemon sauce to go over it. I didn’t want something harshly lemon but a more rounded sauce with the addition of garlic and milk that wouldn’t take a lot of time to make.

Had I been cooking the chicken, the flour that would have fallen off during browning would have been enough to thicken the sauce. As I’m just warming the chicken up, I needed to make a slurry of cornstarch and chicken broth as my thickener.

You can make the sauce richer by adding cream instead of milk.

This is light but rich sauce with good lemon flavor.

Lemon Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Juice and zest of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons juice)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk or cream
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add garlic and sauté just until fragrant and slightly golden.

Pour in 1 1/4 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil, while scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Allow broth to simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Whisk together remaining chicken broth with cornstarch to form a slurry, then pour mixture into broth in skillet along with lemon juice and zest. Allow to simmer about 5 minutes until it has thickened slightly then remove from heat.

Stir in butter and pour in milk or cream. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Spoon sauce over chicken. Serve warm.

 

Pasteli – Greek Power Bars

These little bars are packed with lots of sweet, healthy goodness and make a terrific snack, day or night. I first had them at a wedding in Greece (the seeds are for fertility and the honey for a sweet marriage) but they are ancient in origin and were a common goodie for Olympians to nosh on between competitions.

Look for Greek Thyme honey in Greek/Mediterranean/International grocery stores. If you can’t find it (and trust me, it is worth it), use another aromatic honey like wildflower or even orange blossom.

I do roughly equal parts honey and sesame seeds by weight, so once I buy the honey and see what it is, I then buy the seeds. The last batch I bought was in small cans from Crete.

You can also usually buy sesame seeds in larger quantities at those groceries or Penzey’s Spices has pretty good prices on a 3 cup bag, which I supplemented with a jar of sesame seeds I had in the pantry.

The addition of the sugar makes the candy harder, so drop it down to a tablespoon if you want very chewy bars/balls.

So good and very good for you, too.

Pasteli

450 grams Greek Thyme honey
450 grams sesame seeds
¼ cup granulated sugar
pinch salt

Place a piece of parchment in a large, rimmed baking tray and coat lightly with a neutral oil. Lightly oil another piece of parchment and set it aside.

Toast the sesame seeds in a 325 degree F oven until fragrant. Don’t let them brown as they will become bitter.

Place the honey in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add in the sugar and salt and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add in the toasted sesame seeds. Stir to combine over low heat and cook for a minimum of 5 minutes – the longer they’re cooked after that, the crunchier the bars will be.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Place over the other piece of parchment and use a rolling pin to press and form it into an even layer.

Let cool one hour and then flip over and cut into rectangles, squares or the traditional diamond. I roll the extra pieces into balls to just pop in my mouth when I need a hit.

Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.

 

Sourdough Olive Breadsticks

These aren’t the soft, yeasty breadsticks you find at some steakhouses. Instead, they are more like the Italian grissini and are crispy and flavorful. They are wonderful to snack on while you wait for dinner to cook or while watching the sport of politics as the Democratic National Convention has been on this week (the Republican National Convention is on next week).

Many recipes would have you push the olives into the twists once you’ve placed them on a baking tray. I find mixing them in with the dough means you get a little olive in every bite and no burnt bits.

I sprinkle the tops with flake salt but you can also use a seasoning blend like an everything bagel seasoning, Italian seasoning, pizza seasoning, etc.

Very good and even better dipped in a little olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Bring on the speeches!

Sourdough Olive Breadsticks

1 cup warm water
1 cup
 sourdough starter
1 ½ cups bread flour
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped

egg wash for brushing
flake salt or other seasoning for topping

Mix all ingredients and knead until all flour is hydrated, at least 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a buttered bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place. At 30 minutes and an hour into the proof, go into the bowl and pick up a bit of the outside of the dough and lift and press into the center. Continue while moving the bowl until you’ve gone all the way around. After the second press, let the dough rest for a further 2 hours.

Generously flour the counter with semolina flour if you have it or use all-purpose  and gently turn out the dough. The dough will be wet so sprinkle the top with flour to minimize sticking. Use your hands to flatten and shape the dough into a rectangle. With a knife or pizza cutter, divide the dough into 12-16 strips and shape into long, thin ropes by gently pulling the ends and twisting a few times.

Arrange the twists on greased baking sheets about an 1 inch apart. Do as many trays as necessary but only bake one at a time. Scramble the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush over the top of the twists. Sprinkle with salt or seasoning blend. Let sit on the counter while you preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Bake 16-20 minutes until crispy and turn out on a cooling rack. These crisp up further on the cooling rack, so don’t over bake them.

If you plan to freeze or serve later, bake without egg wash or topping. Once done, cool on wire rack and store in a zip top bag and store. Just before serving, brush tops with olive oil and sprinkle on preferred topping and pop into a 350 degree F oven for about ten minutes until they are heated through.

 

Vanilla Half Pound Cake

I’ve been craving vanilla. Maybe it is because of the quarantining that I haven’t been anywhere to wear perfume – my favorite scent is Vanille from Bourbon French Parfums in the French Quarter. So delicious and perfect for a cooking butch like me.

As it is in the time of Coronavirus, I’m not making the full pound cake (with a pound of butter, etc) because it will mainly be me eating it.

This cake doesn’t have leavenings so you need to make sure you beat lots of air into the sugar and butter and when adding the eggs to give it all the lift it gets.

If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, use 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. The paste gives you intense vanilla flavor plus the flecks of vanilla beans. I use it for cocktails, ice cream and cakes like this where vanilla flavor is the star of the show.

Beautiful cake and it tastes amazing.

Vanilla Half Pound Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour a loaf pan.

Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy – at least 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat well. Mix in the milk and vanillas. Slowly add the flour and salt mixture and beat until just combined. Don’t over mix at the end or the cake will end up dense.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with fresh berries or toast slices lightly for a wonderful accompaniment to your morning’s tea/coffee.

Chocolate Pistachio Slice and Bake Cookies

I found a bag of pistachio nuts in my parents’ pantry and, with my current chocolate craving, decided I just had to make cookies.

Whenever I make these, I divide the dough into two rolls and freeze one for later slicing, baking and eating.

Big pistachio and deep chocolate flavor. So very yummy.

Chocolate Pistachio Slice and Bake Cookies

1 ½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup shelled, chopped roasted pistachio nuts
coarse salt for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixing, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla and then scrape down the bowl. Add in the flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in the pistachios.

Divide the dough in half and place on plastic wrap and then wrap into logs. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or place in the freezer until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from refrigerator. If you are taking it from the freezer, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Unwrap the dough and cut into ½ inch rounds. Set on baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with coarse salt.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the centers appear set. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container.