Monday, May 30, 2011

S'mores to Go

I'm at the end of a 5-day break.  Decided to take a couple of vacation days on top of the holiday weekend.  As always, my to do list continuously infringed on my down time.  But I did get some organizing projects out of the way.

I also wanted to put together a little something for O1's boyfriend, in honor of his 21st birthday.  Since he's a big fan of s'mores I thought I'd try something a bit different than the usual over the top chocolate sweet.  I ran across this recipe for S'mores Granola Bars and decided to try them out.

I'll avoid any attempt to pass these off as healthy treats.  They were, however, pretty tasty...

S'mores Granola Bars

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
4 cups Rice Krispies
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp salt
3 cups mini marshmallows, divided
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 425º.  Spread oats out on a large baking sheet.  Place in oven and allow to toast for 3 minutes.  Stir the oats and return to oven for another 3 minutes.  Leave oven on and pour oats into a large mixing bowl.  Add Rice Krispies and stir to combine.

In a large saucepan, add butter, sugar, water, corn syrup and salt.  Turn heat to medium and allow to come to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 4 minutes, then pour over oat mixture in bowl.  Stir mixture, then add 1 1/2 cups of the marshmallows.  Stir to incorporate.

Use a little butter to grease the baking sheet.  Pour oat mixture onto sheet and spread out evenly.  Rub a bit of butter on your hands and press the mixture firmly down onto pan.  Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and the remaining marshmallows.  Return to oven and allow to bake until the marshmallows turn golden, about 5 - 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and cut into bars.  Store in plastic bags.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Island Time

I will have to say that the inspiration for this month’s dinner didn’t come from the weather, which has been pretty dismal so far. And while I’m extremely grateful not to be living somewhere that’s currently underwater or blanketed in debris from the latest killer tornado, the ever-present rain this Spring has been a little bit… disheartening.

In spite of that, we opted for a little Caribbean inspiration for this month’s dinner. If nothing else, the bright colors and warm weather flavors at least hinted at the promise of better weather.

I hear August is looking promising.

I will have to say that although we still had enough food to feed a small army, we at least were more in the neighborhood of a small regiment than an entire platoon.

No idea if that made a bit of sense.


Carley’s menu was inspired by the cookbook Modern Caribbean Cuisine by Wendy Rahamut. First up was Coconut Crusted Mahi Mahi with a Pineapple Salsa. Carley said the fish pieces were dipped in a little flour, egg and coconut and then simply fried in oil. They were really light and tender, and the salsa was a great pairing.

Pineapple and Fresh Herb Salsa

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
Juice of 2 - 3 large limes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 hot pepper, seeded and chopped

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving with fish or chicken.

* * *

Next was a rice dish which had a nice, subtle spice to it but a lot of flavor all the same.

West Indian Spinach Rice with Nutmeg and Peppers

2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pimento pepper, seeded and chopped
½ hot pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cups fresh spinach leaves, cleaned, dried and chopped
1 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 cup rice
2 ½ cups water
1 Tbs butter

Heat oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion, garlic and pimento. Sauté a few minutes until softened. Add hot pepper and spinach. Cover and cook until spinach is tender. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Add rice and stir to combine. Pour in stock, stirring gently. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Gently stir in butter.

* * *

I believe these were my favorites. The recipe calls for optional cheese, which I don’t think Carley included in hers. If she did, it was very subtle. Anyway, they were REALLY tasty and would make great picnic fare as well. No utensils required!!

Shrimp Arepas with Spicy Tomatoes and Cheese

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp brown sugar
½ cup butter

2 Tbs vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 hot pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 lbs shrimp, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup chopped chives
¼ cup French thyme (fresh)
½ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (optional)

To make the pastry, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the butter and rub it into the mixture. Add enough warm water to make a soft dough. Divide into 16 pieces and cover with a damp dish towel.

To make the filling, heat oil in a sauté pan. Add the garlic, pepper and onion and cook until fragrant. Add the shrimp and cook for a few seconds, then add the chives and thyme and cook for a few more minutes. Add the tomato sauce and season with salt. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, then add the cilantro (and cheese, if adding). Set aside to cool.

Heat the oven to 375º. Form each piece of dough into a ball. Press down each to form 4 - 5” circles. Fill with cooled filling mixture, then fold into a half moon shape and place on a baking sheet. Brush the arepas with oil and bake for about 20 minutes.

* * *

To get us in the island spirit, I decided to try out the new ice shaver I was given. First I froze a couple of different juices (one was a mango/orange blend and the other was a pineapple/coconut blend) in ice cube trays. We used a combination of the two types of frozen juice and added gold and coconut rums to the shaved ice. This was ladled into glasses with fresh pineapple spears and topped with a rosé champagne (for color). I will have to say, they were pretty tasty.

Next up for me were a couple of appetizers. I’m a big fan of gazpacho and love to try it in different variations. This was a pineapple-cucumber gazpacho…

Pineapple-Cucumber Gazpacho
adapted from New York Magazine

1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
4 cups peeled, chopped English cucumber
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 Tbs thinly sliced scallions (use mostly the white part)
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1 tsp sea salt
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped macadamia nuts for garnish

Combine all ingredients except nuts in a large bowl. Add in two batches to a blender. Using a pulse setting, blend the ingredients until combined but still a bit chunky. Stir in macadamia nuts.

Allow to sit in fridge for at least an hour to combine flavors before serving. Garnish with additional scallion and jalapeno, if desired.

* * *

The next appetizer was a shrimp cocktail using a spicy mango sauce rather than a traditional cocktail sauce. I peeled all but the tails from some large shrimp and boiled them for a couple of minutes in a court bouillon mixture. I served the shrimp and the sauce cold.

Mango Sauce

2 ripe mangos, peeled, seeded and diced
1 ¼ cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs freshly grated ginger
1 Tbs ketchup
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground English mustard
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Add vegetable oil to a saucepan. Cook onion and garlic briefly over medium heat, then add the ketchup and spices. Add mangos and water to the mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 - 15 minutes. Cool slightly and blend using an immersion blender.

* * *

For a main course, I opted for a Jerk Chicken, which I marinated and baked. The weather didn’t cooperate enough to grill it, although that’s the method I would have preferred to cook it. The chicken was garnished with fresh pineapple chunks and sat on a bed of fried plantains. The plantains were easily prepared by cutting them into 2” chunks, frying them in a bit of olive oil until brown on one side, and then I smashed them down to form coins, cooked a bit longer on the first side, and then flipped them over to finish cooking on the other side. Then they were simply seasoned with some sea salt.

I also sautéed a head of Napa cabbage with some onions and a sweet and sour sauce. Nothing terribly special, and at the time of this posting, I haven’t actually found the recipe I used!

Jerk Chicken
adapted from

3 scallions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 habanero chiles, stemmed and seeded, then finely minced
¼ cup fresh lime juice
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs Kosher salt
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs fresh thyme
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
3 lbs chicken (I used boneless breasts)

Combine all the ingredients but the chicken in a gallon sized plastic freezer bag. Close the bag and shake a few times to combine the mixture. Add the chicken pieces, seal the bag and then turn once or twice to make sure chicken is completely coated. Place in fridge and allow to marinate, turning once or twice, for about 6 hours. Allow chicken to come to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 375º. Remove chicken from bag and place on a baking sheet lined with foil, making sure not to crowd the pieces. Place in oven and cook for about 20 minutes, or until just cooked through. Turn broiler to high and allow the chicken to brown for a minute before serving.

* * *

For dessert, Carley made a wonderful lime cheesecake with a chocolate crust. I would like to add a photo here, but it appears we were so quick to scarf it down that we didn’t take any. Suffice it to say, it was good. Really good.

Caribbean Black-bottomed Lime Tart

20 chocolate cookies
2 Tbs chopped almonds
4 Tbs melted butter

1 lb cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ Tbs lime zest
¼ cup fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 350º. To prepare the crust, finely crush the cookies and almonds in a food processor. Add the melted butter and combine. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate until ready for use.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Gently beat in the sour cream, lime zest and juice.

Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 40 - 50 minutes until the cheesecake is slightly puffed and the center is set. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lazy Man's Cinnamon Rolls

Before you ask, no, there IS no ‘lazy man’. Just me and O2, a lazy Sunday morning and little motivation for spending 3 hours waiting for yeast cinnamon rolls to be completed. Not that they’re not totally worth the effort. If you have some time to spare, here’s a great recipe.

We did have another fabulous dinner Saturday night with G & C. More to come on that.

Meanwhile… On those days when O2 and I are in the mood for something sweet for breakfast (or breakfast at all, for that matter), this is my quick version of a cinnamon roll. It’s about a 20 minute project, start to finish, and bake time gives me just long enough to dash over and pick up my morning joe and Sunday paper.

See? Not all good things require an entire morning to prepare.

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

1 ¾ cup flour
2 Tbs baking powder
2 Tbs sugar
½ tsp salt
1 stick (8 Tbs) cold butter
¾ cup buttermilk

2 Tbs softened butter
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg

4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs milk

Heat oven to 400º. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut butter into small chunks and add to the bowl. Cut butter into flour with a pastry cutter until butter chunks are about the size of small peas. Add buttermilk and stir just until combined.

Turn mixture out onto a floured surface. Knead lightly 2 or 3 times until it comes together, then roll out into a rectangle, about 12” x 6” (roughly). Dough should be about 1/4” thick.

Spread the softened butter over entire surface of the dough, then sprinkle evenly with the sugars and spices. Beginning with one of the long sides, tightly roll up the dough and crimp to seal edges.

Cut log into 1 1/2” pieces and place on a cookie sheet, cut side up. Bake in preheated oven for 12 - 15 minutes, or just until browned.

While the rolls cool, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Slowly incorporate vanilla and milk, adding more milk if necessary until mixture is of the desired consistency. Spread on warm cinnamon rolls.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Joes, Cornbread and an Old Friend

When I went to the store over the weekend to buy a small container of buttermilk for the crème fraîche I was making, I discovered that all they had on hand were the large containers (Hmm… what does that work out to volume-wise? A quart?). So typical.

Anyway, I obviously ended up with way more buttermilk than I needed, but I figured I’d find a way to make use of it. And since I was also trying to clean the fridge out in preparation for another Dinner o’ the Month with Carley, I came up with a jalapeno and cheese cornbread. My search also yielded a bag of hash browns, which I fried with some onions and fresh spinach. And although chili sounded really good, I decided to go for a quicker sloppy Joes kind of a thing.

And while I can’t remember having a similar menu combo growing up, the meal did bring back memories of childhood, growing up on the farm (no one that knows me now would ever believe I lived on an actual farm). And as fate is often such a tricky thing, lo and behold, sometime after eating this meal and reminiscing over my time in Arkansas, I was contacted by my college roommate, who I had kind of lost track of.

So, while I feel like I should have polished the silverware and made a better showing, meal-wise, here’s to you, Mary.

Mary, by the way, was the one that got me interested in theater, mostly by yanking me by the feet kicking and screaming into the auditorium of the theater at our little college. Got hooked from there and have been ever since.

Thus the name of the blog.

Someone pointed out to me that they haven’t really found the ‘Shakespeare’ in ‘Measuring Spoons and Shakespeare’, and I guess my response is that ‘Measuring Spoons and Various Playwrights from Different Eras Being Represented by Different Theaters During Various Seasons’ just sounded, well… STUPID.

My plan for the blog was to combine two of my loves... cooking and theater.  Unfortunately, life has a way of intervening, and I haven't been able to do a whole lot, theater-wise, for a while.  Hopefully that will change.

I had also thought to post all of the local theater happenings, but until there are more than 5 people who regularly read this, it seems like an awful lot of extra effort for naught.

Anyway, back to the Joes…

Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
1 - 2 Tbs olive oil
½ onion (preferably sweet), diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs brown sugar
3 Tbs ketchup
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbs Hickory Smoked BBQ sauce
1 heaping Tbs mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced peppers and onion and sauté until onions begin to color, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two. Crumble the ground beef over the cooked onion mixture and allow to brown, breaking up any large pieces.

Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook for about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread

1 stick butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 375º and grease an 8” square baking pan. Combine the melted butter, sugar, eggs and buttermilk in a large mixing bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine. Add the cornmeal, flour baking soda and salt and mix together until the dry ingredients are just combined. Stir in jalapeno and cheese.

Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake in the center of the oven until the cornbread is brown on top and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 - 35 minutes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bread for Mom's Day

In a family full of women, the question always rolls around on Mother’s Day, “So… Who’s going to do the cooking??” Generally, we try to make it a pretty laid-back affair with minimal fuss, and this year was no exception.

Since Mom had already celebrated with my sister and the munchkins earlier in the week, Sunday ended up being just me, Mom, and the girls. Didn’t really accomplish much other than bemoaning the state of the weather (I’m not sure Oregon’s seen a 65 degree day yet, and the few sun breaks haven’t really allowed for much-needed yard work to get done) and taste testing the bottle of wine that O1 bought for me (still trying to get used to the idea of having a child that can buy alcohol), but we relaxed, laughed and had a goodtime.

I decided to keep the meal simple, using the standby that everyone seems to enjoy (which, oddly enough, I also made for Mom’s birthday) and included some roasted zucchini slices with garlic, and a loaf of French bread.

For dessert I played homage to Mom’s favorite candy - Almond Joy. We had homemade brownies (a tried and true recipe from the Hershey’s cookbook that I’ve been using for years) with ice cream, candied almonds and toasted coconut. Very satisfying combo, I have to say.

I also wanted to bake some bread for the occasion and at the same time try some of the hazelnut flour I had been given by a friend from work. I ran across a similar recipe to what Carley had given me for a mocha hazelnut bread, but since my no-knead bread recipes have not been the most stunning successes in the past (I’m quite sure there’s something key I have overlooked- I just haven’t figured out what it is yet), I opted for a traditional yeasted bread with a few modifications. This turned out to be a nice, soft bread, probably more suited for a sweet topping, or just plain butter, than for a savory application. But it did make for good breakfasting.

Mocha Hazelnut Bread

4 cups whole wheat bread flour, divided
½ cup hazelnut flour, sifted
2/3 cup sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
½ cup cocoa powder
1 packet espresso powder (about 2 tsp)
1 ½ cups milk
1 stick butter
½ cup sour cream
1 egg
1 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts

In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups whole wheat flour, sugar, yeast, salt, cocoa and espresso powder. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add milk and sour cream. Stir until sour cream melts and remove from heat. Do not allow mixture to become too hot. If it does, allow to cool to lukewarm.

Slowly pour warm milk mixture into flour mixture. Using a hook attachment, combine the mixture at a medium setting just until flour is incorporated. Stir in hazelnuts.

Add another 1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour, and the ½ cup of hazelnut flour to the mixture. Mix until flours are incorporated. Add the remaining ½ cup of bread flour, a ¼ cup at a time, mixing on low speed.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes, adding more flour if dough is too sticky. Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and place in a warm area, free from draft, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide into 2 loaves. Place in greased loaf pans, cover and allow to rise another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 350º. Bake in center of oven 27 - 30minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Turn out of pans immediately and cool on wire rack.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Tale of Two Condiments

After a lot of painstaking soul searching, I have made my peace with a stunning realization about myself.

I am a sauce freak.

I’m sure it’s rooted somewhere deep in my childhood when I would employ every strategy I could to cover up the taste of food I was being forced to eat against my will.

Like peas.


Beef tongue.

My first standard cover-up was my grandfather’s barbecue sauce. This was more of a staple around the house than ketchup (which I was never a big fan of, anyway). And it had enough zip and flavor to adequately disguise some of those evil food products my mother subjected me to.

Like beans and ham hocks.

Can you tell I grew up in the South?

As someone who likes to play with her food, I have long sense ventured from the super secret family barbecue sauce recipe (which I was chastised soundly by my sister for threatening to publish) to any number of equally, if not more satisfying, recipes.

For the latest family barbecue, I thought I’d try one that was a nice combination of smoky, fruity and spicy. It went (I thought) very well with the grilled chicken we were having.

And of course for the traditionalists in the group, I made Granddad’s sauce as well.

The barbecued chicken was so good, I thought I’d whip up some barbecued chicken quesadillas this week for a quick dinner.

Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce

4 slices smoked bacon
½ cup sweet onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup water
1 cup tomato ketchup
¼ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup honey
½ cup apricot preserves
¼ cup apple juice
¼ cup cider vinegar

Brown bacon in a large saucepan until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and add the onion. Sauté over medium heat until onion begins to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and water and bring to a simmer. Add remaining ingredients and bring back to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook about 20 minutes.

Puree the mixture with a hand blender.

* * *

For the quesadillas I spread the barbecue sauce on two flour tortillas. I added cooked chicken, cheese, green onion and crumbled bacon (which I had reserved from the barbecue sauce) to one of the tortillas and cover with the second tortilla. Heat a small amount of oil in a cast iron skillet and cook the quesadilla on one side until golden. Flip and cook the other side.

* * *

As an accompaniment to the curry I made the other night, I wanted some mango chutney, but rather than spending $5 for a little bottle of it, I decided to just make a batch of my own. Much more satisfying (and economical). I’m thinking that the leftovers would be really good on a Cuban type sandwich with sliced pork and some cheese.

Mango Chutney

2 firm-ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
½ onion, finely diced
½ jalapeno, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 cardamom pods, cracked, hulls removed and seeds crushed
¼ tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Allow to come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, about 30 - 45 minutes until thickened.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Goin' Bananas

As planned, I put together a curry for G & C in celebration of G’s birthday. I’m not going to share the recipe here because I’d still like to tweak it a bit. In essence, though, I made a chicken curry with rice and served it with a tray of condiments, which allowed everyone to pick and choose which toppings they liked. It’s a good way to experiment with combos.

Condiments included:

Candied ginger
Chopped cashews
Chopped hard-boiled egg
Toasted coconut
Chopped banana
Mango Chutney (recipe coming soon)
Golden raisins (sultanas)

I wanted a dessert that would compliment the meal and kind of winged this one. I knew I wanted to use bananas since I bought some to serve as condiments for the curry. And, since I had opened a can of condensed milk for the Honey Walnut Shrimp, I decided to use the remainder of it to make a dulce de leche, which amounted to putting the condensed milk in a double boiler and cooking it for about an hour until it began to caramelize. Of course, hard on the heels of making this I totally spaced it and also made the spiced apple caramel from Thanksgiving.

What can I say? SHORT attention span.

I also figured I’d throw in a chocolate sauce and made Alton Brown’s version (see link below).

So, when it all came together it looked something like this…

Phyllo Wrapped Bananas

4 firm, but ripe bananas
12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
½ stick butter, melted
5 tsp sugar
4 tsp cinnamon

Dulce de leche (or other caramel), heated
Cocoa Syrup (recipe here)

Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce (recipe here)

Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl (this is an approximate measurement - make more if needed depending on how generous you want to be).

Preheat oven to 375º.  On a work surface, lay out one sheet of the phyllo.  Using a pastry brush, brush with a light coat of the melted butter.  Sprinkle with about 1 tsp of the sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Lay another sheet of the phyllo evenly on top of the first sheet.  Coat it with more butter and then sprinkle with another tsp of cinnamon sugar.  Repeat with the final layer.  Place one peeled banana at the end of your stacked sheets.  Roll the phyllo over the banana and tuck under the loose ends.  Place on a cookie sheet.

Repeat with other bananas.  Coat with more melted butter.  Sprinkle more cinnamon sugar on top of the rolled bananas if desired.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the phyllo is golden brown.
To assemble:  'Paint a small portion of dulce de leche on the bottom of the plate.  Place a baked banana over the top and drizzle with spiced caramel and cocoa syrup.  Sprinkle with toasted almonds and powdered sugar.


Monday, May 2, 2011

I Did a Bad, Bad Thing

I remember the first time I had Honey Walnut Shrimp. I was with a friend at a local Chinese restaurant, and he’d ordered it, although it wasn’t on the menu. And so for a while I thought it was this super secret item that only a fortunate few knew about. Then I saw it on menus all over the place.

Anyway, as I continue to placate O2’s aversion to meat, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and make my own Honey Walnut Shrimp at home, which turned out to be remarkably easy and quick enough to make it a mid-week friendly meal. I served this with a side of baby bok choy which was flash fried with a bit of garlic (ok, a LOT of garlic) and then steamed slightly.

Don’t ask why it didn’t make it into the picture.

Have I ever mentioned my short attention span??


Anyway, if you're of the low-fat, low-calorie foods ilk, click on, my friend.  We're talking sugar, mayo and fried things.  And I'm not about to apologize.

Honey Walnut Shrimp

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, smashed
1-¼ lbs raw large shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
1/3 cup corn starch
½ - 1 cup canola or vegetable oil (enough to cover the bottom of a pan)

½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup walnuts, halved (I used chopped)

¼ cup good quality mayonnaise
1 tsp honey
2 tsp sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp black sesame seeds
¼ cup green onion, chopped

Combine garlic, ginger and shrimp in a bowl. Stir well to combine and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook and swirl pan until mixture starts to turn an amber color. Add salt and walnuts. Continue to cook and stir the walnuts (the sugar will crystallize and become a ‘sandy’ consistency and then will begin to melt again. When sugar has melted, spread walnuts onto a cookie sheet. Separate into a single layer and allow to cool.

In another bowl, combine the mayo, honey, condensed milk and vinegar.

Heat the canola oil in a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, add the salt, pepper and corn starch to the shrimp and stir to combine. When oil is hot, drop the shrimp into the oil. Cook and stir until shrimp begins to turn opaque and becomes golden on one side. Flip over and cook the other side just until it begins to brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add the shrimp to the mayo mixture and toss to combine.

Serve the shrimp over cooked rice and garnish with sesame seeds, green onion and the candied walnuts.