Shrimp & Grits with Tomatoes

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We have a few Easter traditions in our home… the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt, writing a family member’s name on each Easter egg before dyeing it, following the string left by the Easter Bunny, and eating a classic Charleston dish, Shrimp and Grits, on Easter day. A newer tradition has been to attend the sunrise Easter mass at our beach- which starts at 5:30am!! We have only made it 3 or 4 times… the problem is that everyone is exhausted for the rest of the day. We will see how long that tradition lasts! :) This year my kids also made bunny “peep-ka-bobs” or “shish-ka-peeps” (the name is still being worked out…) as an Easter treat. So cute & sweet! This new project is likely to become an annual tradition. :)

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This version of shrimp and grits has a wonderful tomato sauce served over parmesan cheese grits. I usually make cheese grits with sharp cheddar cheese and this was such a fabulous alternative. We preferred it! The cheese added just the perfect amount of salty deliciousness. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coarse Ground Yellow Grits. Although a simple dish, the preparation usually requires a group effort because everything is done at the last minute for the best result. I suppose another one of our Easter traditions is to cook this meal together! :)

Yield: Serves 8

  • 4 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups coarse ground yellow grits
  • 2 sweet onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices reserved
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, shells removed, tails intact
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus a bit more shaved for garnish, if desired
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh herbs, such as parsley, oregano, and thyme, coarsely chopped in a food processor
  1. For the grits: Heat 4 cups water, milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle in the grits. Reduce the heat to simmer, and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is smooth, thick, and falls easily from a spoon, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare tomatoes: Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in white wine, and cook until dry, 2 to 3 minutes. Add bay leaves, and stir in tomatoes and reserved juice. Season with cayenne pepper. Reduce the heat, and simmer until slightly thickened and the tomatoes have broken down, about 10 minutes.
  3. For the shrimp: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat to sizzling. Add shrimp, season with salt and black pepper, and saute to sear on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. When grits are thickened, stir in heavy cream and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Keep covered with a tight-fitting lid until ready to serve. When tomatoes are ready, remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the chopped herbs. Cover, and keep warm until shrimp are cooked.
  5. To serve, put a heaping spoonful of grits onto a soup plate. Top with the tomatoes, and arrange the shrimp around the plate. Garnish with freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.

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One Year Ago:

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Roast Pork Tenderloin with Carrot-Pine Nut Romesco Sauce

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This dish was unbelievably flavorful, colorful, delicious, healthy, and quick to prepare! I am such a fan of Spanish romesco sauce which is usually prepared with red bell peppers; this carrot-pine nut version was wonderful. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. I increased the amount of pork, greens, and red wine vinegar. I also used red pepper flakes instead of Aleppo pepper and baby arugula in lieu of watercress or baby mustard greens. We ate it with roasted gold potatoes on the side. Fabulous!!

  • ¼ cup raw pine nuts
  • 1½ pound small carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise if larger
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium pork tenderloins
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper or ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided, plus more to taste
  • 7 ounces spicy greens, such as baby arugula, watercress, or baby mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 350° (on convection roast).
  2. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes; let cool.
  3. Increase temperature to 450° (on convection roast). Toss carrots with 1 Tbsp. oil on another rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and black pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until softened and browned, 15–20 minutes; let cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season tenderloins with salt and black pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast pork until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 145°, 8–10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  5. Mince garlic in a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and remaining 3 Tbsp. oil and pulse to a coarse paste. Add Aleppo pepper, one-fourth of carrots, 2 Tbsp. vinegar, and 1 Tbsp. water. Process, adding more water as needed, to a coarse purée; season romesco with salt, black pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.
  6. Toss greens with remaining carrots and remaining 1 Tbsp. vinegar in a large bowl; season with salt and black pepper. Drizzle pork with pan juices. Serve pork with romesco and salad.

One Year Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Whole Wheat Oat Bran-Raisin Muffins

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I had to squeeze a healthy baked good into our Easter weekend! These whole wheat-bran muffins are very moist and tasty. I baked them in my Easter egg-shaped pan, but of course they could be made in a standard muffin pan. This recipe was adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman.

Yield: 9 egg-shaped muffins or 12 standard muffins

  • 3 T grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, honey, or molasses
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if needed (I used 1 percent)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the over to 375 degrees (if using a non-stick/dark pan) or 400 degrees for a standard pan. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan or line it with paper liners.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Beat together the egg, milk, and oil. (I do this in the measuring cup to save dishes!)
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but quite moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full and handling the batter as little as possible. (I had to use my egg pan twice, so I filled the empty cups with water on the second batch.)
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes (convection), or until the muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of them comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the pan. Serve warm.

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One Year Ago:

Orange Chiffon Easter Bunny Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

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My grandmother was a wonderful baker. Years ago, My mom gave me a bunny cake pan that had been my grandmother’s, along with her bunny cake recipes. I take it out as an Easter decoration! :) I always say that I am going to make a bunny cake for Easter but have been apprehensive; the cake pan is like a cake pop pan in that the batter is supposed to rise into the second half of the pan and fill the mold. This year, (finally!) I had the brilliant idea to bake each half of the bunny separately and then ice them together! Seems like an obvious solution now…. My mom was so happy to see the bunny cake! :)

This cake was incredibly moist, light, and bright-flavored from the orange zest and juice. This recipe was adapted from Cupcakes! via Wilde in the Kitchen and The Not So Creative Cook and was originally for 24 cupcakes. DELICIOUS!

Yield: Makes one Bunny cake and 3 cupcakes, or 24 standard cupcakes

For the Orange Chiffon Cake or Cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup water
  • grated zest of one half of an orange, about 1 1/2 tsp
  • ¼ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed, about 1/2 of an orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F and prep the cake pan (and 3 muffin cups) with cooking spray; alternatively prep 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Sift together cake flour, ¾ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in oil, egg yolks, water, zest, juice and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until whites are glossy and smooth.
  4. Add whites in three portions to the batter mixture, folding gently until no streaks remain.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, about 1/4-inch below the top and/or pour about ¼ cup of batter into each muffin cup, should be about ¼-inch below the tops of the liner. Bake for 22-24 minutes (convection) for the cake, or 14 minutes for cupcakes (convection), or until tops are golden and cupcakes test done with a toothpick.
  6. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool for 1 minute in pan. Remove cupcakes from the pan and rest them on their sides to cool completely.

For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting: (you will have extra if making the cake)

  • ½ cup butter, 1 stick, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used light cream cheese)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated zest of 1/2 of an orange, about 1 1/2 tsp
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 jellybeans for the eyes & nose
  1. Cream together butter and cream cheese.
  2. Add vanilla and orange zest, beating until smooth.
  3. Add powdered sugar and salt; beat on medium for about 2 minutes, until frosting is light and fluffy.
  4. Frost one half of the bunny, then fill a pastry bag, with desired tip, with the remaining frosting. Pipe the seam. Frost the cupcakes.
  5. Glue jellybean eyes & nose to bunny with frosting.
  6. Dust the cake with powdered sugar & serve.

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I made a Carrot Cake Bunny Cake as well… Yes, a Bunny Cake Baking Monster has been created! TWO Bunny Cakes for one Easter… Madness! :) I made a mistake by making half of this fabulous recipe to fill my mold. :( Because of the weight of the cake and the thickness of the cake (really the thinness!) it was not as successful in appearance as the Orange Chiffon Bunny Cake. It was sooooo delicious though! I used the orange cream cheese frosting as well. Next year, I will make the full recipe (as below) (with extra cupcakes) and post a new photo. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jodi Elliot of Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon. It was a “staff-favorite” recipe, my favorite recipes to make! I liked how the carrots were weighed versus measured after being grated. It was very moist and delicious!! I can hardly wait to make it again… :)

  • 1 cup pecans (4 ounces)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pans. (Alternatively, butter and flour the bunny mold and additional cupcake liners.
  2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop the pecans.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
  5. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients.
  6. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cakes and let cool completely.
  7. Frost, decorate, and dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar as in the Orange Chiffon Cake above. Serve.

One Year Ago:

Vanilla Bean Macarons

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I planned to make French macarons for Easter after seeing the March cover of Martha Stewart Living; it was covered in beautiful multi-pastel-colored macarons. So springy and festive- and delicious!! After really reading all of the recipes, and the recipes all over the internet, I decided to make vanilla bean macarons. They don’t have the pretty pastel spring colors, but they had the most appealing flavor to me. :) Don’t worry, I plan to make a bunny cake too!

I was a little intimidated to take on the task of making macarons. I chose the recipe from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel because their recipes are so precise- all the guesswork is removed. I closely followed the recipe (it’s only very slightly adapted)… they said it made 14 macarons… it made 14 macarons! Foolproof and fabulous. According to the book, macarons are their biggest seller. They are 2 1/4- inches in diameter; next time I would make them more petite, but I didn’t want to mess with perfection! Great!!

Notes:

  • Macarons (like any meringue) are best made on a dry day. The outside shell is crisp and fragile, the inside chewy.
  • For optimal results, weigh the ingredients.
  • Equipment needed: candy thermometer, a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip, & a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch plain tip. (I only have fluted 1/2-inch pastry tips… so my macarons have a little ripple on the surface! I also used a 1/4-inch plain tip for the filling… it was okay.)
  • It is optimal to make them in a convection oven, on the middle rack, and left undisturbed during cooking. (Baking in a standard oven is possible, but may affect the texture.)
  • Their flavor develops as they stand. This recipe recommends wrapping them in plastic wrap and freezing for 24 hours (or up to 2 weeks); transferred to the refrigerator for 3 hours or so, then returned to room temperature before eating.

Yield: 14 2 1/4-inch macarons

For the Macarons:

  • 212 grams almond meal/flour (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 212 grams powdered sugar
  • 82 grams egg whites
  • 90 grams egg whites (about 5 large eggs in total)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 236 grams granulated sugar, plus a pinch for the egg whites
  • 158 grams (2/3 cup) water
  • 250 grams Vanilla Bean French Buttercream (recipe follows)
  1. Make a template for the macarons: Lay a sheet of parchment paper on the work surface with a long side closest to you. Trace 4 evenly spaced 2 1/4-inch circles alone the top long edge, leaving a 1 inch of space around them. (A compass could be used; I used a biscuit cutter and a fine-tip sharpie.) Trace 3 circles below them, spacing them between the first circles. Continue with another row of 4, followed by another row of 3. Turn the parchment paper over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up the corner of the parchment and spray the underside with nonstick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat for the second sheet pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (convection) or 400 degrees (standard).
  3. Place the almond meal in a food processor and pulse to grind it as fine as possible, about 1 minute.
  4. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together.
  5. Mound the almond-flour mixture, then make a 4-inch well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula.
  6. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Set aside.
  7. Place the remaining 90 grams of egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  8. Combine the 236 grams granulated sugar and the water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 degrees F (110 degrees C). (It will continue to cook.)
  9. While the syrup continues to cook, add the pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to  medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 degrees F (120 degrees C), reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.
  10. When the syrup reaches 248 degrees F (120 degrees C), remove the pan from the heat.
  11. Turn the mixture to medium-low speed, and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk; the meringue will deflate.
  12. Increase the speed to  medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm to the touch, the meringue should have cooled; if not, continue to whip until it is cool.
  13. Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the “ribbon” slowly moves. The mixture shouldn’t be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn’t be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be slightly stiff than too loose. (The consistency is VERY important!!)
  14. Transfer the mixture to the pastry bag with the 1/2-inch tip.
  15. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough of the mixture to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the the first pan.
  16. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the pastry bag. (I tapped it on the counter.)
  17. If using a convection oven, bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. If using a standard oven, place the sheet pan in the oven, immediately lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F, and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp.
  18. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. If using a standard oven, preheat it to 350 degrees again.
  19. Pipe the remaining meringue mixture into the circles on the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.

For the Vanilla Bean French Buttercream Filling:

  • 38 grams granulated sugar
  • 38 grams granulated sugar (76 grams divided in half!)
  • 63 grams egg yolks (from about 4 large eggs)
  • 75 grams whole milk
  • 250 grams (8.8 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  1. Whisk 38 grams sugar and the yolks together in a medium bowl, set aside.
  2. Combine the milk and the remaining 38 grams in a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. When the milk is at just below a simmer, remove the pan from the heat and, whisking constantly, pour it into the egg mixture.
  4. Return the mixture to the pan and place over medium heat.
  5. Whisking constantly, bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for 1 minute, lowering the heat if necessary to prevent the mixture from curdling; it should be very thick.
  6. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment, turn the mixer to medium, and whisk for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is completely cool.
  7. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, to the egg yolk mixture. If at any point the mixture looks broken, increase the speed to re-emulsify it, then reduce the speed and continue adding the butter.
  8. Check the consistency: if the buttercream is too loose to hold its shape, it should be refrigerated for a few hours to harden, then beaten again to return it to the proper consistency.
  9. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the buttercream, and mix on low for about 30 seconds to distribute the seeds evenly.
  10. The buttercream can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month; defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using. Thirty minutes before using, place it in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and allow it to soften. Then mix on low speed to return the buttercream to the proper consistency for piping of spreading.

To Fill the Cookies:

  1. Transfer 250 grams of the buttercream (you will have leftovers… yum!) to the pastry bag with the 3/8-inch tip. (I used a 1/4-inch tip.)
  2. Turn half of the macarons over. Starting at the center, pipe 15 grams (1 T) (eyeball it!) of the buttercream in a spiral pattern on one upside-down macaron, not quite reaching the edges. Top with a second macaron and press gently to spread the buttercream to the edges.
  3. Repeat with the remaining macarons and filling.
  4. Wrap individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and freeze for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Before serving, defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature. Alternatively, they can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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Creamy Poblano & Ancho Chicken Tacos: Mix & Match Fillings

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When these two taco fillings were combined, this dish became a variation of our absolute favorite tacos (link posted below!). It is so boring to always make the same tacos… even if they are your favorite! (My husband disagrees…) These two fillings could be eaten separately or together, but we all chose to combine them. The creamy poblano filling would be a wonderful vegetarian option on its own though! This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. We each constructed them to our liking at the table with rice and refried beans on the side. It was a wonderful reward after our first long day of spring yard work! :)

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For the Cumin and Ancho Chicken Filling:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder or chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  1. Toss chicken with ancho chile powder, cumin, and 2 tsp. salt in a large bowl to coat. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
  2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with a thin layer of oil. Working in batches, place thighs in skillet in a single layer (do not crowd). Cover and cook until a crust forms, about 5 minutes. Turn; cook, uncovered, until thighs are just cooked through, 3–4 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter; let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer with any accumulated juices to a medium bowl. Season with salt to taste.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool slightly. Cover; chill. Rewarm before serving.

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For the Creamy Poblano Filling:

  • 2 pounds fresh large poblano chiles
  • 1 white onion, quartered, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack
  • Kosher salt
  1. Preheat broiler, build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. If broiling, place chiles on a rimmed baking sheet. If grilling, put chiles directly on grill grate. Roast, turning occasionally, until tender and nicely charred all over, 15–20 minutes.
  2. Transfer chiles to a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 15 minutes. Peel chiles. Halve lengthwise; discard seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips.
  3. Heat a large dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until beginning to char, 6–7 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add oregano and 1 cup water; simmer until onion is tender and water has evaporated, 5–7 minutes.
  4. Add chiles; cook until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche and cheese. Add water by table-spoonfuls if mixture is too dry. Season to taste with salt.

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One Year Ago:

Johnnycake Bread

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Johnnycakes are thought to be the original pancakes. Last year, I made Johnnycakes for my son to bring on a field trip to a historic one-room schoolhouse, wrapped in his old-fashioned lunch basket with a potato! (his request… I am sure something else was in there but it was not as memorable!) They are delicious cornmeal pancakes served with butter and honey. I love cornmeal pancakes served with syrup as well.

When I read about this bread version of Johnnycakes from Bon Appetit on First Look then Cook, I wanted to make it right away. Her description was wonderful, and we ate it as suggested- warm with butter. My kids and I loved it! A great change of pace for breakfast. It would also be a delicious snack with a cup of tea or a glass of milk.

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for pans (cooking spray can be substituted for the pans)
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used half and half)
  • ¼ cup molasses (light molasses could also be used, or 2 T molasses and 2 T honey)
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple sugar or turbinado sugar
  1. Heat oven to 325°. Lightly oil (I used cooking spray) three 5×2½” loaf pans (or one 8½x4½” loaf pan).
  2. Whisk flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, molasses, and ¼ cup oil, and whisk to incorporate.
  4. Divide equally between pans. Sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Bake breads until golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 minutes for small loaves (on convection) (or approximately 50–55 minutes for one large loaf). Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before turning out.
  6. Serve warm out of the oven, or toasted if at room temperature, with butter.

Do Ahead: Breads can be made 1 day ahead. Store wrapped tightly at room temperature.

One Year Ago:

Mini-Cheesecakes

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I live in fear of overcooking my baked goods… and I usually shorten the baking time stated in a recipe, especially because I bake on convection. I made these mini-cheesecakes twice because the first time I made them they were undercooked! They were still edible (of course!) and tasty, but not perfect enough to give to my friend for her birthday. :) (We have been eating a lot of cheesecake lately… so glad they are “mini” portion-sized!!) It was difficult to tell that they were undercooked until after they were chilled- I had baked them until they were puffed and set.

For the second batch, I increased the baking time and added two pinches of salt. Thank goodness (…for many reasons… could/should we eat another batch?) they were cooked perfectly. :) They are pure and simple. Perfect to give to my cheesecake-purist friend for her birthday!! …and to bring to Fiesta Friday #11 at the Novice Gardener! This recipe was adapted from Carla Hall of The Chew. She baked them in mini-muffin pans (with 1 teaspoon of crust, baked for 10 minutes) with optional toppings which would be great for a party. A fun touch was to serve them inverted- mine with a fork, my husband’s with a spoon. To each his own! :) Nice!

Yield: Makes 8 mini-cheesecakes

  • 4 honey graham crackers
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 T  granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 T milk (I used 1 percent)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 pinches of coarse salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (convection)(175 degrees C).
  2. Place graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to crush. Add melted butter and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed.
  3. Place liners (I used parchment paper liners) into muffin tins and press 1 1/2 tablespoons of the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each. Using the bottom of a glass, compact the crumbs to form a crust.
  4. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth.
  5. Blend in milk, and then mix in the egg, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth.
  6. Scoop or pour filling on top of crusts. (I use a cookie scoop.)
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 17 minutes, or until puffed, set, and slightly brown on the edges. Cool to room temperature, then chill in refrigerator until serving.
  8. Serve inverted. Can top with berries or chocolate sauce, if desired.

One Year Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Mini “M&M” Cookies

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Both of my kids performed in their school talent show last weekend. They were backstage for FIVE hours!! I wanted to pack a special treat for them to have for the show (and to bring to share with their friends). My son requested M&M cookies. I made them using a simple recipe (from the bag!!) and packed them up. I didn’t plan to post them… but we loved them! Such a surprise. :) They were also colorful and cute. Similar recipes called for much more sugar and salt but these were perfect. The kids really enjoyed them. Great!

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12 ounce package “M&M’s” Chocolate Mini Baking Bits
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts, optional (I didn’t use nuts)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. In large bowl cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt; blend into creamed mixture.
  4. Stir in “M&M’s” Chocolate Mini Baking Bits and nuts, if using.
  5. Drop by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches (50mm) apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. (I used a small cookie scoop.) Bake 10 to 11 minutes (on convection) or until edges are lightly browned and centers are still soft. Do not overbake. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks. Store in tightly covered container.

One Year Ago:

Saffron Pappardelle with Moroccan Spiced Shallot-Butter Sauce

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We have been pappardelle crazy in my household lately– we can’t eat enough of it!! The original recipe had instructions to make saffron tagliatelle but I opted to put saffron threads in my pappardelle cooking water. This shortcut added a surprising amount of flavor – and color- to the noodles. Great! The spiced shallot-butter sauce was spicy and loaded with flavor. This recipe was adapted from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. I omitted the mint and made half of the suggested amount of sauce (I wasn’t baking… I couldn’t use 2 sticks of butter!). I am a sauce lover and the noodles were completely coated in delicious sauce; the reduced amount was perfect. A wonderful and quick weeknight meal!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound of egg pappardelle or tagliatelle
  • 1 large pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chile flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt, or more, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley (alternatively, 1/4 cup mint and 1/4 cup parsley can be used)
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toast the pine nuts for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant and light brown in color.
  3. Make the Moroccan Spiced Butter: Place the butter and oil in a frying pan and add the shallots. Cook the shallots gently for about 10 minutes, or until they soften and the butter turns slightly brown. Add all of the spices, salt, and pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  4. Add a large pinch of saffron threads to the salted boiling water. Cook the pasta in the water according to package instructions. Drain and return to the saucepan.
  5. Pour the spiced butter over the pasta and stir well. Sprinkle with parsley and pine nuts and gently incorporate. Serve.

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One Year Ago:

 

Warm Chocolate Puddings

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I dressed up a take-out pizza and salad night with this special dessert. Just as easy as box-mix brownies and much more fabulous! They are more like mini-soufflé cakes than warm puddings. This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I used Trader Joe’s 72% cacao Belgian dark chocolate and topped each pudding with salted caramel ice cream. They would have been just as delicious with vanilla bean ice cream- or coffee ice cream- or no ice cream?!? I’m bringing this wonderful dessert to Fiesta Friday #10 at the Novice Gardener this week. Enjoy! :)

  • 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Trader Joe’s 72% cacao Belgian dark chocolate)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Ice cream (any flavor), for serving (optional) (I used salted caramel)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (on convection). Place four 6- to 8-ounce ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. Place chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat; mix in 2 tablespoons sugar, then egg yolks and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Still beating, gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; beat until mixture is stiff and glossy.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, mix about 1/3 egg-white mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture just until combined. Divide among bowls. (Puddings can be prepared in advance up to this point; cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate up to 1 day.)
  5. Bake until tops are puffed and cracked but insides are still quite soft (a toothpick inserted in center will come out gooey), 10 to 12 minutes on convection, or longer if puddings were previously refrigerated. IMG_8168
  6. Serve, warm or at room temperature (puddings may sink as they cool), topped with ice cream, if desired.

One Year Ago:

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Rick Bayless’ Red Mole Enchiladas with Shredded Chicken

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This dish was a labor of love. Rick Bayless titled it “Simple” Red Mole, but I took the “Simple” away from my title. :) The method is simple, but there were so many steps required to make this ultra-FABULOUS sauce I couldn’t describe the dish as simple. Every step was completely worth it! Mole is my absolute favorite and this is a wonderful version. When tasting the sauce for seasoning, I could have gobbled up the entire pot! I did simplify the recipe by using shredded rotisserie chicken in the filling. This recipe is from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine by Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless and Jean Marie Brownson. We ate the enchiladas with rice, refried beans, and sautéed kale with spinach and garlic on the side.

Yield: Serves 6 to 9, with about 6 cups of sauce

For the Essential Sweet-and-Spicy Ancho Seasoning Paste:

  • 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 8 medium (about 4 ounces total) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • scant 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 6 cups chicken stock, divided

To Finish the Dish:

  •  3 T vegetable oil, plus a little more if needed
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) whole raw almonds (with or without skins)
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced 1/8-inch thick, divided
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2-3 ripe plum tomatoes
  • scant 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) roughly chopped Mexican chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s 72% cacao Belgian dark chocolate)
  • 2 slices firm white bread, toasted
  • coarse salt, about 2 1/2 tsp, depending on saltiness of stock
  • granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon
  • 18 corn tortillas (plus a few extra in case some break)
  • a spoonful or two of sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 3 cups cooked, coarsely shredded chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
  • rice, for serving, optional
  • refried beans, for serving, optional

Make the Essential Sweet-and-Spicy Ancho Seasoning Paste:

  1. Roast the unpeeled garlic directly on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet (I used a cast-iron skillet) over medium heat until soft (they’ll blacken in spots), about 10 minutes; cool and peel.
  2. While the garlic is roasting, toast the chiles on another side of the griddle or skillet: 1 or 2 at a time, open them flat and press down firmly on the hot surface with a spatula; in a few seconds, when they crackle, even send up a wisp of smoke, flip them and press down to toast the other side.
  3. In a bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water.
  4. Combine the oregano, black pepper, cumin, and clove in a food processor along with the chiles, garlic, and 2/3 cup of the stock. Process to a smooth puree, scraping and stirring every few seconds. If the mixture won’t go through the blender blades, add a little more liquid. Remove from the food processor and set aside.

Make the Mole:

  1. In a medium-size (4 to 6-quart) pot (I used an enameled cast iron pot), heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over medium. Add the almonds and cook, stirring regularly, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the almonds to a food processor.
  2. Add half of the sliced onion to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until richly browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Use the slotted spoon to scoop the onions in with the almonds, leaving behind as much oil as possible. (If needed, add a little more oil or lard to the pan, let heat, then continue.)
  3. Add the raisins, stir for a minute as they puff, then use the slotted spoon to scoop them in with the almonds.
  4. Roast the tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on one side, about 6 minutes, then flip them over and roast the other side.
  5. Once the tomatoes are cool, peel and add to the almond mixture in the food processor, along with the cinnamon, chocolate and toasted bread. Add 1 cup of the stock and blend to a smooth puree, scraping and stirring every few seconds.
  6. Return the pot to medium-high heat, and, if necessary, add a little more oil or lard to coat the bottom lightly. When very hot, add the ancho mixture and cook, stirring almost constantly, until darker and very thick, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the pureed almond mixture and cook, stirring constantly for another few minutes, until very thick once again.
  8. Stir in the remaining 4 1/3 cups stock, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium-low for 45 minutes. Taste and season with salt and sugar. (The sugar balances the strong flavors.)

Finish the Enchiladas:

  1. Warm a plate for each person in a warming drawer or in the oven on the lowest setting.
  2. Warm the tortillas: I put 6 to 8 tortillas at a time on a microwave safe dish (I have a tortilla warmer) covered with a damp paper towel and lid or plastic wrap. Heat for 1 minute or until warm, soft and pliable.
  3. Toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet, stirring frequently, over medium heat until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. In a medium-size saucepan, combine the chicken with 1 1/2 cups of the mole and warm over medium heat. Bring the remaining mole to a simmer. IMG_8221
  5. To serve: Quickly make the enchiladas by scooping 2 generous tablespoons of chicken onto a tortilla, rolling it up and placing it on a warm dinner plate. Continue making enchiladas, arranging 2 or 3 per plate, then douse them liberally with the hot mole. Strew with the remaining sliced onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Notes:

  1. The finished mole will keep for several days, covered and refrigerated; it also freezes well. Reheat, taste and adjust the seasonings before finishing the dish.
  2. Leftover chicken, pork, shredded roast, turkey, grilled steak, or even roasted squash or sweet potato mixed with grilled onion and/or blanched greens would also be wonderful fillings.
  3. The sauce could be served over poached chicken with rice on the side as an alternative special dinner.

One Year Ago:

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