Saturday, July 25, 2009

Going Dutch

My wooden shoes are ready! The family is ready to enjoy a travel journey to Holland to spend with friends. As an extra treat, a speed train to Paris for a couple of days to see the sights. We are hoping to get off the tourist path at least for awhile in Paris, to enjoy some local French food and wine.
I am hoping to get an opportunity to check-in with my blog and share the experience with you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Israeli Hummus with Paprika and Whole Chickpeas

Hummus can can be one of the hardest things to get right. Americans have a misconception that hummus is strong, lemony and garlicky. Not true! Hummus needs to be rich, creamy with a mild nutty flavor. This hummus recipe uses chickpeas that have been soaked overnight with baking soda to soften them.

Israeli Hummus with Paprika and Whole Chickpeas
(Makes 4 cups)
note: recipe from Food and Wine

1/2-lb dried chickpeas
1 Tablespoon baking soda
7 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2-cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4- teaspoon ground cumin, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup tahini, at room temperature
1/4-cup plus 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Paprika for garnish
1/4-cup chopped parsley

Serve with warm pita bread.

1. In a medium bowl, cover the dried chickpeas with 2 inches of water and stir in the baking soda. Refrigerate the chickpeas overnight. Drain the chickpeas and rinse them under cold water.
2. In a medium saucepan, cover the chickpeas with 2 inches of fresh water. Add the garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, reserving 6 tablespoons of the cooking water and 2 tablespoons of the chickpeas.
3. In a food processor, puree the chickpeas with 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water, 1/4 cup of the olive oil and 6 of the garlic cloves. Add the cumin along with 1/4 cup each of the tahini and lemon juice and process until creamy. Season the hummus with salt and transfer to a large dish or bowl.
4. Wipe out the food processor. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of tahini, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of reserved cooking water, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and garlic clove and puree.
5. Using a ladle, make an indent in the center of the hummus. Spoon in the tahini-lemon mixture. Sprinkle the hummus with the cumin and paprika. Garnish with the reserved whole chickpeas and the parsley, and serve with pita bread.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Favorite Crowd Pleasing Dish

Growing up in South Florida, food was as diverse as its people.

Today, my cooking reflects all of my food and travel experiences. I am not sure what inspires a person to have a passion for cooking. I am at my happiest not just when I am feeding a few, but when I am feeding a crowd. Where does it begin? Looking back, I could not find a single epoch in my life that would clearly define my passion for all things FOOD! Yet, there were definitely signs, events that added together would be equal to the moment that I was attempting to discover. I am reminded that life is often like that....a collection of events, that when reflected on, collectively tells the story.

My husband convinced me to submit the recipe below for the Annual "North Central Florida Cooks" sponsored by the local newspaper. I won first place in the entree category with this recipe. This prize winning dish has evolved over the years to its present splendor. Try it and you'll see, or feel free to change it! This is still my favorite recipe to serve a houseful of guests.

Chutney provides a delicious shortcut in this lime and red bell pepper accented curry served over Basmati or Jasmine rice.

Tropical Curried Chicken with Rice
(Serves 4 and easily doubled and tripled)
Note: All measurements are approximate and you will need to adjust to your taste.

2- 1/2 lbs. of chicken legs and thighs
3 Tablespoons oil
3 Tablespoons good quality curry powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 (12 ounce jar good quality chutney
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/8 cup chopped green onion for topping
1/4 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts

Prepared hot and ready to serve long grain rice (preferably a basmati or jasmine)

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and curry powder. In a large skillet, heat oil until hot. Add chicken pieces, skin side down. Brown chicken until lightly golden on both sides. Add chutney and 1/2 of the red bell pepper. Simmer 30 minutes over medium low heat.

Transfer hot rice to a large serving platter. Place cooked chicken on top. Garnish with green onion, red bell pepper and peanuts. Surround platter with lime wedges.

As an extra, I like to add fried plantains to the serving platter or as a side dish.

If you get a chance to make this dish or have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Grilled Herb Shrimp

This grilled herb shrimp recipe is guaranteed to impress your friends. This recipe is great for dinner, but can be served as an appetizer for parties or impromptu gatherings. You will not be disappointed!
Serves 6
(Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, small diced
1/4-cup minced fresh parsley
1/4-cup minced fresh basil
1-teaspoon dry mustard
2- teaspoons Dijon mustard
2-teaspoons kosher salt
1/4-teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4-cup good olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2-lbs. Jumbo shrimp (16 to 20) per pound, peeled (tails left on) and deveined

Combine the garlic, onion, parsley, basil, mustards, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add shrimp and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Prepare a grill and brush grilling rack with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Skewer the shrimp. Grill the shrimp for 1- 1/2 minutes on each side.

Note: You can also broil the shrimp: 3 inches from the flame and 2 minutes per side.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Prosciutto-Wrapped Greens

So easy and so good, these pretty bundles can be put together in minutes.
(Serves 8)
Recipe from Cooking Fresh
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 vinegar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 lb. mesclun or arugula, washed and spun dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
12 thin slices prosciutto

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard. Put the mesclun or arugula in a medium bowl and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the Parmigiano to the greens and gently toss with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly. Taste for salt and pepper.
Set a slice of prosciutto on a work surface and put a small handful of greens at the narrow end of the meat. Squeeze the greens together and roll the prosciutto into a tight log. Cut the log into 2-inch pieces in the diagonal ( two or three pieces, depending on the width of the prosciutto). Repeat with the remaining prosciutto and greens and serve.