Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spicy Avocado Mango Salad

This salad was a side dish to the Coconut Shrimp, but it would be a shame to limit it - it's a super adaptable salad. It would be delicious as a side - or as the base - with a Jamaican jerk pork loin, turkey burgers, chicken... You see where I'm going with this. Any place you might want to add a bit of crunch and gentle spice, this is a great option.

And it couldn't be easier.

There is jalapeño in this salad - I only used half, because I'm a bit of a spice wimp. If you're particularly fond of them, use a whole pepper. The spice in the jalapeño is really fantastic with the avocado and the mango and it strikes a great balance. That balance is part of what makes it so adaptable.

One word of caution: go easy on the sesame oil. A little goes a long, long way, and it's easier to add more than it is to start over.

Spicy Avocado Mango Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish
3/4 c mango, peeled and diced
1/2 c red pepper, diced
1/2 c avocado, chopped
1/2 c onion, diced
1 c bibb lettuce, diced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/2 t chili flakes
1 t sesame oil
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Devour.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Coconut Shrimp with Mango Rice

While I was making these, I was getting a little frustrated. I was getting hungry, which means my patience was waning. I always forget how time-consuming it can be to bread thing; especially when those things are small and numerous. The words "these had BETTER be worth it" may have been muttered.

They are.

Panko is the perfect breading for these, because it doesn't overwhelm the subtle flavor of the shrimp, and the crispiness the panko brings to the party is a lovely compliment to the toasted coconut. To make these even more perfect, they're baked, not fried, so they're light and crispy with no hint of greasiness.
Like a lot of breading adventures, this is a three step process: flour, egg, breading. Try to use one hand for the flour and breading steps and the other hand for the egg step. If you use both hands for all three steps, as I did, you'll end up with a sticky mess of floury, eggy mess stuck to your fingers.

Learn from my errors.

The slightly sweet mango rice is a fun side dish. A note on the agave syrup. If your mango is more ripe, you probably won't need it. The mango that stumbled home with the produce this week was a little on the not-quite-ripe-enough side. I recommend you add the agave syrup at the last minute so you can taste the rice to see if you need it. (Honey would be a good substitute, but sugar will probably be gritty, since it won't have time to be incorporated.)

Coconut Shrimp with Mango Rice
Serves 4
16 prawns, peeled and deveined
1/3 c flour
1 egg
1 T milk
1 c coconut flakes
1/2 c panko
1/2 t chili flakes
1/2 c mango, peeled and diced
1 3/4 c water
1/4 c milk
1 c long grain rice
1/4 t salt
1 T agave syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 370°. Toast the coconut in a dry pan over low heat. Divide the coconut in half.
  2. To bread the shrimp, add the flour to a shallow pan. In another shallow pan, sit together the egg and 1 T milk. In a third shallow pan, mix the panko, 1/4 t chili flakes, and half the coconut.
  3. Pour the water, the other half of the coconut, and 1/4 c milk into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Keep an eye on it as the milk will make it prone to boiling over. Add the rice and stir; turn the heat to low. Add the diced mango and stir, then cook the rice for 20 minutes, or until fluffy. Stir and set aside.
  4. While the rice is cooking, butterfly the shrimp so they lay flat. Dip each shrimp first in the flour, then the egg mixture, then into the panko/coconut mix. Transfer to a baking sheet.
  5. Bake the shrimp for 15 minutes, or until pink and curled. Serve with mango rice and salad.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pizza: Spinach and Sausage

Summertime is made for pizza and decks and cold beer. Ideally, that is. In a perfect world, Clive and I would have eaten this pizza on the deck late one evening while the weather cooled off and the dog hunted bees. We would have sat outside, chatting and watching twilight set in. In reality, however, we ate this on the living room floor as we huddled around the coffee table. Are we really that lazy that we couldn't have walked the extra 10 feet to get outside to glorious summer?


No, we are not that lazy. We live in Seattle, and I made this pizza as consolation for the fact that it was August and raining. A lot.

So while pizza may be made for summertime, it's also good for rainy days.
This was a fun pizza to make, and it evolved as it went. There's a thin layer of roasted tomato paste on the bottom that intensifies the flavor, but doesn't overwhelm or compete with the other flavors. I used my (clean!) fingers to spread it around because the back of the spoon wasn't cutting it.

The tomato paste was followed by a thin, think layer of grated gruyere and a layer of tomatoes. That's the other wonderful thing about summer: fresh tomatoes. I have tomato plants on the deck, but they're ... a bit lackluster. I have five plants, and I'm on track to harvest four tomatoes. I'd like to blame the plants or the weather, but I'm getting closer and closer to acknowledging that perhaps, just maybe, I don't have a green thumb. The farmers' market, fortunately, fills that gap nicely.

I steamed spinach and cooked down onions and sausage and piled that on top of the tomatoes. Grated Parmesan topped it off.

When it came out of the oven, it looked like this. It didn't look like this for very long, though, because as soon as it was safe to eat without burning the roofs of our mouth, we devoured it.

Poof. Just like that, it's gone.

Spinach and Sausage Pizza
1 recipe pizza dough
1 T roasted tomato paste
1/4 c gruyere
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1 lb spinach, wilted
3/4 lb sausage, casings removed (or bulk sausage)
1 onion, sliced
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 c parmesan

  1. Spread or roll our your pizza dough and cover the top with the tomato paste. Don't be afraid to use your hands to spread the tomato paste into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle the gruyere over the top, then evenly space the tomatoes.
  2. In a pan over medium heat, sautee the onions and sausage until the onions are translucent and the sausage is browned. Add the spinach to the pan along with 1/4 c water and cover. Keep an eye on it, but cook until the spinach is wilted - 2-3 minutes.
  3. Squish the excess water out of the spinach as you transfer the mixture to a bowl. (If you don't squish out the water, the pizza crust will end up soggy and icky.)
  4. Spread the sausage, onion, spinach mixture over the tomatoes, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Crumble the goat cheese evenly over the top and grate Parmesan over the whole pizza.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is dark golden brown and the cheese is lightly toasted.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Project; Squares, Revisited

This is what I've been doing lately on the quilting front:

Cutting out 720 little squares and 130 larger squares.

It took longer than I thought it would, though I can't imagine why I thought it would be a quick project to cut out sixty three bazillion squares. Let that be a lesson to me!

Also, I'm not liking this quilt much. I keep reminding myself that I rarely like them until they're all put together, but I have to force myself to work on it because it doesn't inspire me.

But I did cut out a million billion squares, so I'm going to call it good and be happy about that. Deal?


Friday, August 13, 2010

Rice Cakes of Deliciousness

Yesterday I found myself with about 3 cups of leftover rice. Leftover rice in our house is one of those funny things that either ends up in something delicious or sits in the fridge until I start to wonder if eating it would be A Very Bad Idea. Then it goes into the compost bin. I've never left it in there long enough for it to start growing things or changing color, though. I don't even know if that's possible. I would assume it is. Does rice turn colors if you leave it in the fridge long enough?

This rice had a happy, delicious end that was very loosely inspired by croquetas. If you've never had croquetas, they're amazing and you owe it to yourself to track them down. These honestly couldn't have been easier to make and the panko gave them a fantastically delicious and crisp crust.

The rice and goat cheese will come together much more nicely if you aren't afraid to get your hands dirty. It's just goat cheese; it will wash off.

Rice Cakes
2 c rice, cooked and cooled
1 oz goat cheese
2 T onion tops or scallions, diced
1/2 t salt
1 t olive oil
1 egg
1 T milk
1 c panko or bread crumbs
1 T grated cheddar
1 t dried parsley
1 tomato, sliced

  1. Combine the rice, cheese, salt, and onion in a medium bowl and mix well.
  2. In another bowl, beat the egg and whisk in the milk. In a separate bowl, mix the panko, cheddar, and parsley.
  3. Form four patties from the rice mixture and dip them in the egg mixture. Flip them to coat the patties with egg; then move the patties, one at a time, to the panko mixture. Flip the patties and make sure they are coated with panko.
  4. Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 T olive oil and heat. When the oil is warm, add the patties to the pan. Cook them 5-7 minutes per side, until golden brown and warmed through.
  5. Serve with sauteed kale or a salad topped with tomato.