Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

One of my favorite appetizers is a classic shrimp cocktail.  If shrimp cocktail is on our menu, it's probably a special occasion. To be honest, I've always bought frozen precooked shrimp; I have yet to buy raw shrimp and boil it myself for shrimp cocktail.  I'm not afraid of boiling raw shrimp for shrimp cocktail.  The reason I haven't so far in my foodie journey is one of convenience.  Usually I'm making so much of the menu from scratch, that I need to make some convenience choices.  However, there is a line I do not cross.  I refuse to buy shrimp cocktail sauce. Pause for the gasp.  I know. Call me a shrimp-cocktail-sauce snob if you want to.  In my defense, any shrimp cocktail sauce I buy, whether it comes a jar or is included in a plastic shrimp cocktail container, is just too sweet.  I usually have all the ingredients on hand in my refrigerator, and this tastes so much better.  I promise.

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Shrimp Cocktail Sauce
1 cup ketchup
2 - 3 tablespoons of prepared horseradish
(I use all 3 tablespoons. Note: this is really all you need; the rest of the ingredients just make it a bit fancier).
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce (optional - adds saltiness)
1 lemon cut in half, juice from lightly squeezed half of lemon (optional - adds brightness)
1 scant tablespoon of chili sauce (optional - adds sweetness)
dash of cayenne pepper (optional - adds a little heat)
seasoning salt for the shrimp (I used "Real Salt Organic Natural Season Salt")

1. Gather the shrimp cocktail sauce ingredients.

2.  In a small bowl add horseradish to 1 cup of ketchup.  I have stopped at this point.  You almost don't need anything else.

3. Add the Worcestershire sauce, the chili sauce, and the cayenne pepper to the mixture.

4. Finish the sauce with lemon juice.

Here is what I do with frozen cooked shrimp

1. Poke a couple of holes in the bag containing the frozen shrimp. Place the bag of shrimp in a bowl in such a way that the shrimp will drain into the bowl as the shrimp thaws.  Thaw the shrimp in the refrigerator overnight (24 hours).

2. Rinse the thawed shrimp in a colander, pat dry with paper towel, arrange shrimp on a platter and squeeze with the rest of the first half of lemon.

3.  Slice the remaining half of lemon as decorative pieces for the shrimp cocktail platter.  Take a pinch or two of your favorite seasoning salt, or old bay seasoning and lightly sprinkle the shrimp with the seasoning.

**** If you are planning on leaving shrimp cocktail out for more than 1/2 hour, you should plate them on ice.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Martha Stewart's Popovers, and Mimosas

Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Martha Stewart's Popovers, and Mimosas has become my family's go-to menu for holiday breakfasts.  Whether it is Thanksgiving morning, Christmas morning, or Easter morning there is a good chance that my Mom is making this breakfast. Even though my husband and I are over 1,000 miles apart from our parents this Christmas, keeping the same traditions, making the same food, somehow takes away some of the sorrow of being apart.  My Mom is the one who first tried Martha Stewart's popover recipe after seeing her prepare them on TV. I think that's how she first discovered them. Anyway, one day, I don't remember if it was for a birthday, holiday, or "just because," I received a popover pan, and print-out of Martha Stewart's popover recipe in the mail.  I've made them a few times now, and like my Mom, I do really love them.  However, my popovers have never turned out the way my Mom's does (or Martha's, I'm sure).  Hers are huge and hollow enough to stuff the scrambled eggs and bacon inside. Yum. I may have come close to this crowning-popover achievement when I lived in California, but now that I live in Colorado - not so much.  They turn out short and dense, but they are still oh-so good.  I'll have to experiment with different flour and oven temperatures in the future due to the high altitude. My mom came up with the menu.  I think my brother and I added the mimosas. Now, this menu is a family tradition. Today, my husband and I slathered Colorado cherry butter all over the popovers, adding one more dimension.  The bottom line is that no matter how your popovers turn out (light and fluffy, or short and dense) they taste great, and you can enjoy time with your family over a delicious breakfast!

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Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Martha Stewart's Popovers, and Mimosas
1 package of bacon
2 - 3 eggs per person for the scrambled eggs
2 teaspoon of butter, salt, and pepper for the scrambled eggs

For the popovers - yield six
Unsalted butter, room temperature, for the pan
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 scant teaspoons of salt
3 large eggs
popover pan

For the mimosas
Orange juice

1. You can prepare the bacon in a frying pan which can take a few batches, or bake the bacon.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, place bacon strips on parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes (or until the desired state of crispiness is reached).

2. After the bacon is done keep it warm in a toaster oven if you have one.  Turn the oven up to 425 degrees, and gather all the ingredients for the popovers.

3. Generously butter a 6-cup popover tin.  Make sure to butter the rim of the cups too.

4. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, milk, and salt.  Add eggs, one at a time, and stir to combine (some small lumps may remain); do not over mix.

5. Using a 1/2 cup measure, gently pour batter into the center of each prepared popover cup.  Transfer tin to oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes more.  Immediately invert pan to remove popovers.

6. Take a small knife and poke a few holes to let out the steam.

7. Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in a non-stick pan.

8. Crack the appropriate amount of eggs in a bowl (2 - 3 per person).

9. Whip eggs with a fork until blended.

10. Pour the eggs over the melted butter in the heated pan.

11. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

12. When the bottom gets a firm layer push the eggs towards the center.

13. Circle the pan pushing the eggs towards the center 3 or 4 times.

14.When the bottom gets another firm layer remove the pan from the heat and fold the cooked egg over the slightly runny egg a few times.  The hot pan and the cooked egg are hot enough to cook the under cooked portions.  This way the eggs don't get over cooked but they are cooked through.

15. Plate the eggs, bacon, and popovers.  Serve the popovers with jelly, jam or fruit butter.

16. For the mimosas - the ratio of champagne to orange juice can very greatly.  You can serve the mimosas "mild" using 1 ounce of champagne to 2 ounces of orange juice.  Or, you can make the ratio half and half.  I've even seen recipes online that call for 2 ounces of champagne to 1 ounce of orange juice for a "strong" version.  So, the great news is that you can have mimosas that are light to strong depending on your taste (or mood).  Today we had the "mild" version with breakfast.  I poured 1 ounce of champagne and 2 ounces of orange juice.  Cheers!

17. Enjoy this delicious breakfast with your family.

Note: I served the popovers with "Cherry Butter" from the Colorado Cherry Company.  WOW. There are just no words for the sublime, luxuriousness taste combination this makes.  I can't recommend it enough.  Also, if you are ever on your way to Estes Park from Loveland, CO heading on 34 west you will pass this delightful shop.  It will be worth your time to take a look inside.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Turkey Enchiladas with Homemade White Sauce

I'm finally getting around to my last left-over turkey recipe for the year.  We've had so much turkey over the last month we are definitely not having turkey for Christmas.  I've had something similar to this recipe except it was made with chicken. I've wanted to learn how to make it ever since.  After some Internet research, combining other's recipes with my own hunches, I created the following dish. It hit the spot, and I will make this dish again either with leftover turkey or leftover chicken.

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Turkey Enchiladas with Homemade White Sauce
1 small to medium onion, diced small
3 cups of left-over turkey, diced medium
8 oz oven roasted green chilies divided, 2 oz  set aside (or canned equivalent)
4 cups of homemade turkey stock (made the same way as chicken stock, or store bought broth - a staple in my pantry) divided, 1/2 cup set aside
4 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of flour
3 cups of Monterrey Jack cheese divided, 1 cup set aside
1 cup of sour cream
8 flour tortillas (about 8 to 8 1/2 inches in diameter)
olive oil
white pepper
fresh chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
sour cream for garnish (optional)
salsa or pico de gallo for garnish (optional)

1. Soften one small to medium diced onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until translucent.

2. Add the chopped turkey and 1/2 cup of the turkey broth to the pan.

3. Mix 2 oz of roasted green chilies to the turkey mixture and remove from heat after turkey is warm.

4. Melt butter in a medium-sized pot.

5. Add flour to make a roux.

6. Do not let the flour brown. Slowly add the remaining turkey broth to the roux, and stir until the sauce is thickened.

7. Stir in the remaining 6 oz of green chilies to the sauce.

8. Stir in 3/4 cup of the 1 cup divided cheese (keeping 1/4 cup set aside) until melted and blended into the sauce.

9. Remove the pot from the heat and blend the sauce with an immersion blender.  (I do this to make the sauce kid friendly.  Well, in my case, husband friendly.  I don't think my husband would like "spicy green things" in his sauce).  Plus, the flavor is more evenly distributed.

10. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1 cup of sour cream.  This has a cooling effect against the spicy green chilies.

11. Add salt and white pepper to the sauce.  Have a taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

12. Add 1/2 cup of sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.  Assemble 8 enchiladas by dividing the turkey mixture and 2 cups of cheese evenly between the tortillas.  Add the turkey mixture to the center of the tortilla and top with cheese. Tuck each side of the tortilla around the mixture and place the enchilada seam side down.

13. Line up 8 enchiladas side by side and pour the white sauce evenly over the top.

14.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese down the center.

15. Place the dish in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 - 40 minutes until brown and bubbly.

16. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve.  Makes 4 dinners serving two per person.

Here are the results of my internet search and the other recipes that inspired mine:


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