Sunday, September 27, 2015

Shrimp and Crab Bisque

I've been back from Montana for about one month.  The Trout followed me just over a week ago.  It was a cooler summer than usual, but the smoke from the forest fires in Washington and Idaho really did a job on us.  It was not very pleasant and it went on for a long time.  The fishing was so-so, but we managed to keep busy and enjoy our time.

While I was back in Arizona, The Trout had dinner in a restaurant in Missoula and has been raving about the Crab Bisque  since then.  We both have been searching for recipes that were similar to what he so enjoyed, and it has been difficult.  We ended up combining parts of two recipes we found and then added our own touch to it and it was so good, I knew I had to write it down or we will never be able to duplicate it again. 

As is evident in the photo, we added some whole shrimp to the top of the soup and that is a slice of my French baguette that I baked yesterday.  This was an absolutely delicious treat for dinner today.  Perhaps not a typical bisque, but I like the changes we made to make it ours.

Shrimp and Crab Bisque
4 to 6 servings

1 pound medium or large uncooked shrimp with shells
2 large King crab legs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cups water
salt to taste
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons dry sherry, divided
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 large leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 tablespoons, tomato paste
pinch cayenne
1 cup heavy cream

Shell 1 pound large or medium uncooked shrimp, reserve the shrimp and  cook the shells in a large pot over high heat in 1 tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring frequently, until lightly browned in spots, about 3 minutes.  Then add 2/3 cup dry white wine and 2 tablespoons dry sherry.  Boil until most of the liquid is evaporated.  Add 6 cups water, 3 sprigs thyme and a bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl, pressing on the shells before discarding them. 

In the same pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1/4 teaspoon salt.   Add the meat from 2 large King crab legs and about 8 large shrimp. We cut the crab and shrimp into bite-size pieces, setting aside several shrimp for the top of the soup garnish.    Sauté until the shrimp are pink, 2-4 minutes.  Then transfer crab and shrimp to a bowl.

Add 3 tablespoons butter along with 2 ribs chopped celery, 1 peeled chopped carrot, 2 large leeks, white and light green only, chopped, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, and  1 fennel bulb, finely chopped and sauté about 5 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste, pinch of cayenne and pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add shrimp stock and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes.  With a stick blender, process into a purée to your desired consistency.  We like it a little chunky.

Add 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 more tablespoons of sherry into the bisque.  Return to stove top to reheat.  Stir the remaining shrimp and crab into the bisque.

Absolutely delicious and I am so glad I finally tried to make my own shrimp stock.  It is so simple and I know that using chicken or vegetable broth as a substitute would not have been a good thing for this bisque. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Trout's Other Art Endeavor

Along with wood carving, I was intrigued by gourd art that is very much on display at art fairs in our area as well as at our Creative Arts Center.  As with wood carving, we in Pebble Creek are fortunate to have talented gourd artists who are willing to offer beginner classes to learn this craft (art)!  Judy and her side kick Charlene, hold several classes throughout the year and I jumped in as soon as I could although I was the thorn man among several roses taking the classes.  They even forgave me for slipping an occasional "shoot" while working away.    

We start with one of many gourd shapes available.  The pear shaped one in the center is nice for several projects. In this picture is a cleaned, dried gourd.   The first class was to create a gourd rattle by painting and adding "doo dads" of your choice.  I haven't found any "pow wows" to perform at, but after a libation or two, I have danced to a full moon! In the second class, you learn coiling with yarn and pine needles.  I went with a simple Navajo village motif with and I managed to do two rows, which is tricky for someone with fat fingers.

I keep trying to do some good projects for my beginner level.  It's fun to blend colors and find designs to copy on to a gourd, wood  burn the lines and do the painting with acrylics and ink dyes.  I did manage to get three rows of coils on the gourd on the right along with several "kokopelli" like animals and figures.  I love the "kokopelli" art of the Hopi artists which I added to the gourd on the left.  A "kokopelli" is a fertility deity according to Wikipedia and is shown as a humpbacked flute player with feathers projecting out of his head.  Many tribes such as the Hopi revere this deity as he presides over childbirth, animal reproduction and agriculture.  Also he is believed to be a trickster god and portrays the spirit of music. 

As with wood carving, I love the kachinas and a mask was very often produced for processions, dances and as toys.  Many feathers, hair, stones, leather, etc. can be used to enhance a mask along with carved feathers.  I don't know of any particular significance to a certain mask, but I am sure the Hopi and others saw spirits and other  meanings to these beautiful creations.

This is my last completed project of another mask.  It is fun to blend the ink dyes and create the feathers and necklace.

I was unable to download a picture of another prized creation I did of a gourd birdhouse with artificial turf at the top and a bit of painting around the opening.  I proudly opened my phone to show Charlene and her husband Paul, along with great friends Dave and Steve,  my creation that I had sent to each daughter as an advancement on their future inheritance.  After several "what the hell is that" shouts from my dear friends, my creative juices were dimmed until more libations brought out several ideas on how to improve on this masterpiece.

We decided that not only would it be a cute birdhouse but it could be used to house one's cremation ashes as well.  We could produce these and include a funnel and cat litter scoop for filling the gourd with ashes and then use our customized cork ("Here lies Bubba") to plug the hole for eternity.  Unfortunately our sales have been nil so far so other than many great laughs, we need to create a new project.

So, many thanks to Judy and Charlene for helping launch my gourd creation career!  What fun it has been to learn new crafts and art forms in our first year here in Pebble Creek along with many new dear friends who love to share a good laugh and libations!!

Now to go trout fishing!!

The Trout

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Trout's Kachinas

"Broadface" kachina
 When we first moved to Arizona, less than one year ago, we started going to the wonderful museums in the area. I was immediately impressed with the Hopi Indian art of carving Kachina dolls.  I had long admired the works of many carvers of animals, birds and fish but Kachina dolls was my first attempt at the art (some say it's just a craft!) of wood carving.

From Wikipedia,"kachina are known to  be the spirits of deities, natural elements or animals or deceased ancestors of the Hopi."  The men of the villages carved these figures from the cottonwood root to be used at ceremonies and to pass on to their daughters as toys and for educating the children as to important spirits. There are hundreds of examples of kachinas from simple to very intricate figures.  The Hopi of today are real masters for making Hopi figures largely the old fashioned way, with a well sharpened knife and natural paints.

Thanks to our Carving Club here at Pebble Creek, I was introduced to the fascinating craft of wood carving and after doing two classes for learning  the tools of wood carving, I received three "roughed out" dolls to finish with the router, sand and then paint.  Many thanks to Al, Chris, Gordon, Jim, Gerald and many more members of the club for their patience and willingness to help a beginner!

It takes many hours of going from a roughed out figure to the finished doll with hopefully few mistakes through the process of using knifes, power carving machines, sanding, sealing,  wood burning (my nemesis) and painting.  I've made 62 feathers which takes the most time and patience to achieve a natural look.  We largely use basswood and acrylic paints and sealers.
This guy, known as "Corn Dancer" was my first attempt.  Also known as "Rugan" for the Hopi word for "rasp" which is a musical instruments for playing along side of the procession of Corn Maidens and Corn Dancers.  This dance is to ask for a good harvest of corn.  A four feather headpiece along with a speaking tube and ear tabs are common to this  stereotypical kachina along with the kilt and sash.

This picture shows a side view of "Corn Dancer" along with a smaller version of "Broadface" for the detail of the skirt and and arms and head. I used natural pods and seeds from our Arizona plants for the mounting along with carved types of cactus.

Next came "Hochani"!  He represents a chief or headman of the  tribe.  I added the hatchet and rattle along with carving the small cactus.

I hope to get some wood and tools  sent to Montana for roughing out for further "Corn Dancer" kachinas to be painted once we return to our wonderful setting here in Pebble Creek in Goodyear, AZ.  The way the water conditions look like now in Montana, my fishing may be curtailed greatly, unfortunately, so my new hobby will come in handy.

A couple of good books for further information on Kachinas is "Carving Traditional Style Kachina Dolls" by Tom Moore and "Kachina Doll Carving" by Eric Bromberg.  Both are available at Schiffer Books.

STAY TUNED!  There is another hobby I also found here which is a lot of fun also!!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Basket Hobby

One year ago this week, we purchased our home in Arizona.  We moved in last September and since then, we have been very busy.  Blogging has definitely taken a back seat as one of the last things on my "To Do" list.  I read many blogs almost every day and enjoy keeping up with all my friends.  I have tried many of your recipes, too, but have not blogged about them.

One month ago we finally sold our Florida home.  That has been a long drawn out pressure removed from our minds.  It is over and I will not dwell on it anymore as we are now so happy in our new environment.

The Trout has been busier than he has in years and I will let you know about his hobbies very soon.  But today, I want to share my new hobby with you.  If you are my friend on Facebook, I have shown you a few photos of my Nantucket Lightship Basket weaving.  I found a new neighbor of mine who taught me and walked me through my first two baskets and just today I finished my third basket totally on my own.  I have never had so much fun.

I have also been doing some knitting, but now have started an interest in Kumihimo.  The instructor has just gone for the summer but will be back in the fall.  Not being able to sit still for long, I have watched You Tube videos and ordered some supplies and decided that this will be my "go to" hobby while we are in Montana this summer.  I will be making bracelets with beads.  With a little experience on my own, I will be able to tackle some bigger projects this winter with instruction.

I mentioned Montana.  It is getting to be that time again.  Yes, it is hot in Arizona right now, but not unbearable.  A cooler change for a few months seems just about right.  We feel very fortunate that we can spend our retirement in two climates and we take nothing for granted.

So, now onto the Nantucket baskets.  My first basket was a 6" round.  The canes for the staves come in large rolls which need to be cut to the lengths you need.  Next the cane binder reeds need to be cut into lengths to weave.

I then started on a large pot belly basket with a lid.  This was a bit more challenging, but I have plans for two more this winter.

My last basket was a very small 3" button basket.  I have plans for 2 more of these this winter also.  I can easily make a pin cushion out of it or add a lid.  I will do both in the future.

I used cherry wood for the rims and lid.

You can see the cherry wood in the bottom and that white dot is an ivory plug which is typical of Nantucket style.  

This little cutey is my button basket.  I set it next to the soda to show the small size.  

And once again, you see the ivory button in the bottom. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Vietnamese Steak with Cucumber Salad

We have always been fans of Thai salads and all Thai foods, but when the Trout found this recipe on the N Y Times Cooking site,  we just had to try it.  It was not a mistake.  This has turned out to be our very favorite Thai/Vietnamese steak salad ever!

Vietnamese Steak with Cucumber Salad
by Melissa Clark for NYT Cooking

1/2 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon packed lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 large jalapeno, minced
1 flank steak or small sirloin, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 small seedless English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large bunch radishes, thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oil (vegetable or olive)
Cooked rice or rice noodles
Roasted peanuts, chopped
Fresh cilantro leaves

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime zest, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic and jalapeno.  Pour half of the mixture over the flank steak and let marinade at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 24 hours.  Let meat come to room temperature before cooking. 

Combine the cucumber, radishes and scallions.  Pour in just enough of the left over marinade to coat.

Grill the meat to your done preference.  Thinly sliced and serve over cooked noodles or rice and top with the cucumber salad.  Garnish with cilantro and peanuts and serve with the remaining marinade as sauce.

Absolutely loved this salad and will be making it often.  We hesitated with using 1/2 cup fish sauce, fearing it would be too salty, but did use the whole 1/2 cup and it was perfectly seasoned.  Not too salty at all. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Dinner

Our Easter dinner this year was a change from the usual, and we both have to agree, this was an excellent meal.  Usually we lean towards lamb, but with this beautiful over 6 pound duck in our freezer, I was anxious to roast this baby.

I decided to follow a recipe I found on Pinterest, and it turned out to be from Chef Ron Lock, and it was easy and turned out perfectly.  I would use his routine over and over again.  It was that simple and the results were outstanding.

The cooking times were right on, and I stuffed the duck with an orange half, two garlic cloves and a few springs of thyme.  My 6 pound duck took 2 hours and 20 minutes to reach its full potential.

I also served Minnesota wild rice with it and my German red cabbage which was a perfect combination.  I hope your Easter Day was perfect and that you were able to share it with family or friends.

Our dear friends/neighbors stopped by this morning with a box of See's ScotchMallow Eggs which were the perfect topper to this wonderful meal.  Thank you Dave and Steve.  The best friends and neighbors ever!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Into the Baskets

I am so totally enjoying myself.  I love the classes and lectures that you can attend in our retirement village.  It has actually come to the point that I need my calendar with me at all times, because it fills up so quickly.  It is such fun.

My newest adventure is finding a neighbor from New England who teaches Nantucket basket weaving.  For some reason, I have always wanted to try basket weaving, but just did not attempt to teach myself.  Then dear Dorothy came along and now I am rolling full steam ahead.

 I wanted to start small, so this is a 6 inch basket.  I felt if I was due to make mistakes, it should be in a small basket.  Luckily, this is just about perfect.  It was definitely a learning experience that I enjoyed.  That small white button on the bottom is ivory and fills up the bolt hole that holds the basket on its form.  The wood is cherry.

A gentle spraying of shellac at the finish helps to preserve and shine the basket.

I need to claim this as my own, so it is signed by the artist.  sigh....

The basket was woven by cutting reeds into tapered ribs and using cane to weave in and out of the ribs.  Sort of addictive.  So much so that....I have started a potbelly basket with a cherry lid.

I am having fun, working at my own pace and knowing that my teacher is in the neighborhood and available if I need help. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Slow Cooker Red Wine Beef Cheeks

Once again, I am reminiscing about France.  In 2012, we spent some time in Paris, renting an apartment on Rue Riovoli.  It was typically small, but very quiet and located across from the Tivoli Gardens and quite accessible to walking to the Louvre and other places of interest.  Our first evening in Paris, we had made reservations for dinner at REED on Rue Amelie which is a street which runs next to Rue Cler.  Owner, Catherine, is a Canadian, and I learned about her restaurant from blogger friends.  Our dinner that night was is every dinner in France.

I had Osso Bucco and The Trout had Beef Cheeks Bourguignon.  Beef cheeks...those large meaty lumps in the cow's face.  Yes, they were butter knife tender and delicious.  This was the  first time we had heard of them and the first time we had eaten them.  Oh yes, I got my share off his plate also.  The meat simply melted in your mouth.

Of course, when back home, we talked about the beef cheeks and in the last three years have never seen them in any butcher shop.  Until.....a couple of weeks ago.  We did not buy immediately, but went home first to research how we were going to prepare the cheeks.  So last weekend, we went back and bought the cheeks and then we smelled them all day in the slow cooker.

The butcher had not cleaned and trimmed the cheeks.  It was a job and I immediately decided no one wanted to see photos of this procedure.  There was fat and silver membranes that needed to be removed.  The next time, I hope to find the cheeks cleaned.  It is a lot of work to prepare them.  Otherwise, beef brisket or chunks of chuck roast could substitute, but I doubt they would be able to duplicate the melt in your mouth pieces of meat that the cheeks provided.

Slow Cooker Red Wine Beef Cheeks
From Recipe Tin Eats

Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil, separated\
3 lbs beef cheeks (4 large or 6 small)
1 onion, roughly diced, about 1 cup
1 celery stalk, roughly diced, about 1 cup
1 carrot, roughly diced, about 3/4 cup
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
4 dried bay leaves
1 cup beef stock
2 cups red wine
3 tsp salt, separated
Black pepper

Prepare the beef cheeks; cut off any large, fatty membrane.  Pat dry and then season each side with 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, heavy based pan over high heat.  Sear the beef cheeks on each side until nicely  browned.  Remove cheeks onto a plate loosely covered with foil to keep warm.

Turn down the heat to medium and heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Add garlic, onion and carrots.  Sauté for 3 minutes until onion is becoming translucent.  Then add celery and sauté for 3 minutes.

Pour the onion mixture into a slow cooker and place the beef cheeks on top.  Pour the wine into the fry pan and return to heat.  Bring to a simmer and let simmer 1 minute.  Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Pour the wine into the slow cooker, then all the remaining ingredients.  Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.

Open the slow cooker and remove the beef cheeks.  Remove the bay leaves.  Using a hand held blender stick, puree the braising liquid into a smooth sauce.  Pour into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the sauce turns a darker color and reduces by 1/4 to 1.3 to a gravy consistency, about 10 minutes.  Whisk in a tablespoon of butter to smooth it out.  Add the beef cheeks to the sauce and serve ladled over mashed potatoes.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Steak au Poivre and Asparagus/Mushroom Risotto

Whenever I think of risotto, a very favorite dish, I can't help but  think back to 2003 when we were traveling in Italy.  We were in the Piedmont, traveling in Northern Italy.  We stayed at a beautiful hotel on Lago d'Orta.  We were seated outside overlooking the picturesque lake and I was sick.  Flu symptoms and just feeling punky.  The menu sounded so good, but I told the waiter that I just could not eat.  He was most sympathetic and asked my symptoms.  I told him that my stomach was having a war with itself.

Immediately, he asked if he could order something for me. " I  will talk to the chef and bring out something that will taste wonderful," he said, and so he did.

I had the most delicious dish of risotto placed before me.  It was perfect food for a jumpy stomach.  Since then, my love for risotto has only grown.  It even tastes better when I am not ill.

Shopping for groceries, I saw a 2 pound bag of fresh asparagus and one whole pound went into my risotto along with mushrooms.  Though both the Trout and I were each in charge of 2 burners getting this dinner on the table, it turned out to be a very great meal.

Steak au Poivre

Adapted from Bistro24 at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix

Servings:  4

3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
Four 3/4 inch thick beef strip steaks (about 8 oz. each)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whiskey

Coarsely crush peppercorns.  Pat the steaks dry and then brush with oil on both sides.  Gently press the peppercorns to coat both sides.  Season both sides of steak with salt.

In a large skillet over medium high, heat the oil.  When it is hot, reduce heat to medium and cook the steaks for 4 minutes on each side until medium rate.  Transfer to a place and cover while making the pan sauce.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the shallots.  Cook over medium heat, stirring 1 minute.  Add the wine, bring to boil and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan until reduced by three-quarters.  Add the stock and cream, bring to a boil, then simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.  Add juices from the plate of resting meat, whisk in mustard and whiskey.

Transfer steak to serving plates, spoon sauce over each.

Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto
Recipe by Deseree Kazda, "Life's Ambrosia"
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound asparagus, bottom inch discarded, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup white wine

In pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and cook asparagus and mushrooms until softened, about 7 minutes.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and cover and keep warm.

In pot, heat broth over medium heat and keep warm while preparing risotto.

In another pot, heat butter and remaining olive oil over medium heat.  Once butter melts, stir in shallots and cook just until softened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in arborio rice just until coated in the butter.  Do not brown.  Pour in wine and and cook until wine absorbs.  Pour one ladle of hot brother over rice and stir consistently until liquid is absorbed.  Repeat until all the broth is used and absorbed.  Stir in asparagus and mushrooms.  Serve immediately.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hatch Chili Ristras

Look at this plump Hatch chili ristras.  We just bought it on Saturday and the peppers are still soft, not totally dried.  Looking forward to using these peppers as we expand our cooking knowledge and step into a little more Mexican cooking.

There is an area of New Mexico which only grows this special type of Hatch chili.  Where to hang it was the next predicament.

This plant hook on the end of kitchen cabinet worked out just great.  Now if anyone has some recipes they love using these chili's, I could use some advice.  At least I am going to enjoy my new SW decoration for my kitchen

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Art of Gourds

Yesterday was spent at a Gourd Festival south of Phoenix in Casa Grande.  We were not familiar with the popularity of this craft until moving to the southwest.  It is very popular here, gourds are grown in this area just for artists and crafters and it is a big deal.

Go to Wuertz Gourd Festival to read more about it.  The Trout is scheduled for classes in learning this craft and  he is as excited as I am.  We did take a few pictures of the winning artists this year and their work is outstanding.

Woodburning  and painting are involved on the outside, but the cleaning of the gourds on the inside is another job in itself. 

Many artists add ropes, pine needles, antler horns to the gourds to give them a very beautiful touch.

Instead of pots, some makes masks for the wall and even purses.  We tend to like the southwest designs on the gourds the best.

We were on the Wuertz farm in Casa Grande which is located between Phoenix and Tucson.  They sell the harvested and dried gourds at a very reasonable price.  We picked up a couple for the future.
In fact, the Trout even picked out one to buy from an artist.  His classes start soon.  I'll be anxious how he does in developing this new craft. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Yummy Red Roasted Pepper Hummus

How easy is this and how yummy!  It certainly beats the pricey brand in all the grocery stores.  I found a recipe on the Internet which roasted the red peppers on the grill, cooled them, slipped the skin off, chopped them and then added to the chick peas.  I did it my way with a jar of red roasted peppers.  I just dried the amount of peppers I needed and chopped them.  Same results and so much faster.  The fresh red peppers will be used to dip into the hummus.  Sounds good to me!

Red Pepper Hummus

3/4 of a cup roasted red peppers from a jar
1 can 15 oz. chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. tahini
2 small cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste
1/4 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for serving if desired

To a food processor (I always use my small 2 cup processor) add chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt and cumin.  Pulse and then scrape down the sides.  Add olive oil and about 3/4 of the amount of the red peppers.  Pulse and then add 1 tbsp water to thin if necessary.  If still too thick, you can add a small amount of more water. 

Top with a small amount of the chopped peppers and serve with veggies or pita chips.  Store in the refrigerator. 

I like the color and it fits perfectly in my very first ever bowl that I turned on a potter's wheel several years ago. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thai Sticky Rice and Mango

New friends gifted us a few weeks back with some Thai Sticky Rice.  Because both of them have been so kind to us, we invited them to dinner for  Pad Thai and Sticky Rice and Mango.  This was a first taste for me on the sticky rice.  After a lot of searching, I found many, many ways to prepare this rice for dessert.  It seems that it is a favorite Thai dessert.  I now can understand why.

I probably took the easiest way to prepare the dish after watching a Thai mother and her daughter on a video.  If you are truly interested in preparing this lovely dessert, I would suggest you watch also.

Thai Food Tonight

Thai Sticky Rice
2 cups of sweet rice (sticky rice)
1 cup sugar
1/2 can (13.5 ounces) of coconut milk
1 or 2 ripe mangoes

Cream Sauce
1/2 can (13.5 ounces) of coconut milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cornstarch

Rinse the rice.  Soak it in water for 30 minutes.  Drain some of the water, leave 1/4 inch of water remaining on top of the rice.

Cover container and microwave on high for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes check the rice and see if it is still crunchy.  If not tender, turn it over in the pot and microwave 2-4 more minutes.

Mix 1 cup sugar and 1/2 can of coconut milk and stir until sugar dissolves.  Pour this sauce over the cooked rice and coat completely.  Cover and let stand for 20 minutes and serve at room temperature.

Slice mangoes into bite size pieces and serve with the sweet rice.

Cooking instructions for the Cream Sauce.

Mix sugar and remaining 1/2 can of coconut milk and stir until sugar dissolves.  Add salt and cornstarch and put all ingredients into a saucepan.  Stir well.  Cook over low heat and stir constantly until just boiling, then turn off the heat.  Let cool.

When ready to serve place the sticky rice in the center of a plate, surround with mango slices and drizzle the cream sauce over the top.  Serves 6 easily.

The sticky rice can be found in Oriental Markets or on Amazon.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from King Arthur

My cookie baking was long overdue and when I saw the favorite recipe for 2015 on King Arthur flour, I knew this one was IT!  All ingredients were in the pantry, so it took no time at all to bring these out of the oven. 

The cookie is crisp and slightly chewy in the middle.  It will be added to my favorite list for sure.

I am sure no one will be disappointed.  Go to the King Arthur flour site for the recipe and in case you have not been there before, take some time to find the most perfectly tested recipes out there. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Skate Wing for dinner

A skate is similar to a stingray, but smaller.  They also lay eggs compared to a stingray which gives birth live.  That being said, we learned about this delicacy when we were in France several years ago.  We found it on a menu and were absolutely overwhelmed with the delicate taste and the unusual type of seafood.  It is not a typical menu item, especially in the US.

Since moving to Arizona, we have been searching out many different grocers to see what they supply to their customers.  A favorite Hispanic grocer is not far from us and when we saw fresh skate wing in their fish display, we could hardly believe it.  We had no idea how to even fix it, but we knew we liked it.

So, we went back home and started searching for a way to prepare this fish.  It seems the best looking recipe comes from Julia Child.  She prepared her skate simply and served it with a Sauce Meuniére with butter, lemon and capers, so that is what we decided to do.

The skate has a skin similar to a shark, and that had been removed.  We also removed the main bone and fileted the wing.

Here are the two pieces of skate wing as we bought them.

 A closer look of the cartilage in the wing.

Here the Trout is fileting the meat off the wing.

We bought the two wings which came to about 1 pound and the cost was $3.99 a pound.  

This tender fish tastes a lot like Dover sole.  The recipe we followed is here:

Skate Meuniére with Butter, Lemons and Capers
Serves 2

2 skate wings, about 1/2 pound each
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 lemon, juiced and zest
2 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoon. finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Warm a tablespoon of oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot and starts to shimmer, place the skate fillets in the pan and sauté for about 3 minutes per side.  Remove the wings and keep warm.

Wipe the skillet clean and turn the heat the medium.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in pan an brown to a nutty color, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the lemon juice, zest, capers and parsley and continue to cook, stirring constantly until they're warmed through.  Turn off the heat and transfer skate to serving platter.  Garnish with the caper sauce. 

We served this with a favorite veggie combo.

Sauté one sliced onion and 1 large clove of garlic in butter and olive oil..  Add chopped peppers, chunked zucchini and a couple of tomatoes cut into chunks.  Let simmer, covered until tender.  I added fresh oregano and basil from our herb garden.  So delicious. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Persian Rice Pilaf

A favorite recipe that I have not made in a very long time, was enjoyed with grilled lamb chops recently.  This recipe is so old, I have no recollection of where it comes from.  It has always been made infrequently, but enjoyed totally each time.  I guess the name Persia is added because of the combination of tumeric, cinnamon, almonds and golden raisins.  It is perfect with lamb or chicken.  I hope you will give it a try.  You will not be disappointed.

Persian Rice Pilaf
2 T. butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups uncooked basmati or Texmati rice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 tsp. ground tumeric
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups chicken broth

Melt butter  in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and almonds and sauté 7 minutes or until onion is tender and almonds are golden.  Stir in rice and the next four ingredients; sauté 2 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender.  Makes 6 cups. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Arizona Lemons

What I am finding is that Arizona is ripe with citrus and that the people are so friendly and sharing that we are getting a lot more citrus than was ever available for us in Florida.  I have frozen a lot of lemon cubes which end up being dropped in our ice water each day.  Lemons bars have been baked and now, lemon curd has been lovingly stirred on the stove top.  I love it.  I eat it folded into plain Greek yogurt.  I eat it for breakfast and immediately start looking forward to my next breakfast.    I spread it on buttered toast or simply a spoon or two when I feel like it, right out of the jar.  It is delicious and does not really need a pie shell to make its presence known.  But, you could put it into a tart shell or eat as pie.

This is a simple Lemon Curd recipe that comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.  

Lemon Curd
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon rind

In large bowl, beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes.   Slowly add egss and yolks.  Beat for 1 minute.  Mix in juice.  It will look curdled, but will smooth out as it cooks.

In medium saucepan, cook mixture over low heat until it looks smooth.  Increase heat to medium and cook stirring constantly until thickened, about 15 minutes.  Do Not Boil.  Remove from heat and add zest.  Transfer to a bowl.  Place plastic wrap on top and place into refrigerator.  It thickens as it cools.  Cover tightly and will keep 1 week in refrigerator and in freezer 2 months.