Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tropical Storm Cocktail

The weather outside may be frightful, but the cocktails inside are delightful.  I know, I know, I should keep my day job.  I could not resist as it was humming through my head.

The key to this cocktail is fresh pineapple juice.  Don't compromise the flavor of this cocktail by using canned pineapple juice. The small effort makes all the difference.

This makes a large size batch for guests if you want to share.  If not, just store it in your refrigerator for up to 3 days, and enjoy at your leisure.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Pineapple Juice
Puree 4 cups of 1"- cubes of peeled, cored ripe pineapple in a blender until smooth.  Strain through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth.

Tropical Storm Cocktail
Serves 8
Recipe from Bon Appetit

2 cups fresh pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
1 cup white rum
3/4 cup high-proof dark rum
3 tablespoons Campari

Place all ingredients in a pitcher.  Cover:  Chill for 4-12 hours.  Divide among ice-filled glasses.  Garnish with orange wedges and maraschino cherries.

Note: If you would prefer a frothy top to your cocktail.  Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.  Add the cocktail mixture, and shake vigorously.  Pour into your glass.  Garnish.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Farm Chick at It's a Small Town Life

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dirt to Table Experience: Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce

Would you have thought that you could roast and caramelize cauliflower to enjoy like a meaty steak?  I raised my eyebrow initially at the idea, but with half a dozen heads of fresh cauliflower from the garden, we were ready to take our weekend dinner path in a different direction.  I am not advocating that you replace your juicy steak with cauliflower steaks.  However, if you are looking for a fast, super fresh, absolutely delicious alternative...You have come to the right place.

By cutting a whole cauliflower into very thick slices you create an opportunity to experience this vegetable in a whole new way.

It goes from being a bland vegetable to being a dish that will rock your world. 
Did I mention that this dish has less than 200 calories?

Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce
Serves 4
Recipe from Bon Appetit

1 large head of cauliflower
1/2 cup pitted oil-packed black olives, finely chopped
3 sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
3-1/2 tablespoons, olive oil, divided, plus more
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves
2 plum tomatoes, cored, quartered

Remove leaves and trim stem end of cauliflower, leaving core intact.  Place cauliflower core side down on a work surface.  Using a large knife, slice cauliflower into four 1/2" "steaks" from center of cauliflower (some florets will break loose; reserve).  Finely chop enough loose florets to measure 1/2 cup.  Transfer chopped florets to a small bowl and mix with olives, sun dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, parsley, and lemon juice.  Season relish with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven too 400 degrees F.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Working in 2 batches, cook cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, adding 1 tablespoon oil to pan between batches.  Transfer steaks to a large rimmed baking sheet.  Reserve skillet.  Roast cauliflower until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, return skillet to medium-high heat and add garlic cloves and tomatoes, one cut side down.  Cook until tomatoes are browned; turn tomatoes over and transfer skillet to oven with cauliflower.  Roast garlic and tomatoes until tender, about 12 minutes.

Transfer garlic, tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon oil to a blender; puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Divide tomato sauce among plates.  Place1 cauliflower steak on each plate; spoon relish over.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Andy Wallack

Friday, December 16, 2011

Garden Kohlrabi and Shredded Carrot Salad

Kohlrabi tastes a lot like broccoli with a crisp texture like a turnip. I dare say its mild and almost sweet.

Kohlrabi is not a vegetable that I would have given even a glance at in the produce section or a farmer's market.  I would not even know what the heck do with it, if I did.

My dirt to table experiences have increased since recently discovering the pleasures and the agonies of organic gardening.  Since I prefer to experience the pleasures from gardening, which simply equates to PLANT what Will Grow!  By Golly kohlrabi grows without any Effort in the North Florida Fall garden, which means my garden has a plentiful supply of kohlrabi.

So let's discover kohlrabi together. I promise this won't be the last kohlrabi recipe as the garden is eagerly providing me with an abundant supply.

This cold kohlrabi salad looks like a cole slaw but it has a crisper texture with Asian flavors of sesame oil, ginger and soy sauce.

Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad
Serves approximately 4
Recipe from Messy Vegetarian Cook

2 kohl rabi
2 small carrots
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
 Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the kohlrabi into matchsticks sized pieces or shred with a grater (note: I used my grater attachment on my food processor).  Do the same with the carrot and combine in a large bowl before adding the chopped onion.

If possible, use a pestle and mortar to combine the sesame oil with the garlic and ginger.  When you achieve a nice even paste, add the sugar and other liquid ingredients.  This method is optional (Note:you can simply crush, mince and mince), but it is worthwhile as it really mixes the flavors well.

Add the liquid with the vegetables and stir until covered.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Diana Bauman- A Little Spain in Iowa

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

This is the time of year where we are scrambling for entertaining dishes that are easy to prepare and to serve guests.

This is how you improve on shrimp cocktail.  Roast the shrimp, don't boil and prepare a good spicy cocktail dipping sauce.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
Serves 6-8
Recipe from Ina Garten

For The Shrimp
2 pounds (12 to 15 count) shrimp
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce
1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on.  Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in one layer.  Roast for 8-10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through.  Set aside to cool.

For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco.  Serve as a dip with the shrimp.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Christo Gonzalez a/k/a Chez What?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake

Recently I posted what I refer to as my "indulge me" questions on my facebook page.  The question was, "If you could have only one dessert the rest of your life what would it be?"  Me?  I am going down with a fruit crumble of sorts and this cake is close enough to my heaven.  A friend responded warm arroz con leche (rice with milk a/k/a rice pudding).  I thought, "Wow, I am not the only one that goes nuts over a good rice pudding."  That would be my second choice.  I know you are thinking she is going down for "what?"  "Fruit crumble and rice pudding?"  Sure am.

This cake served up warm with vanilla ice cream is melt in your mouth delicious.

You can tell that we did not cut the cake into dainty slices but tore into it like people who wanted to eat cake.

Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake
Serves 6-8
Recipe from Ina Garten

12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1-1/18 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.  With the mixer on medium, add 1-cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined.  On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate.  Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely.  Combine the remaining batter over the fruit, covering it completely.  Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter.  Bake for 55 minutes to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.  Serve warm or at room temperature.