Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oven-Roasted Shrimp with Garlic-Butter Zip Sauce

As soon as I saw a recipe for roasted shrimp in the January/February 2013 edition of Cook's Illustrated I knew that I needed to make it.  After reading the recipe carefully and mulling it over, I knew exactly how I needed to change it up.  I tinkered not because I doubted the folks at Cook's Illustrated; I trust them implicitly. I changed up the recipe based on the "zip-sauce" I had in the refrigerator. The garlic-butter zip sauce from this recipe exists in my refrigerator as a staple, so I'm always looking for creative ways to use it. This dish would be great to make for company because sides can be made in advance, and the shrimp can be made in minutes. By the way, Cook's Illustrated gave three different butter/spice blends for this recipe.  I highly recommend that you check out this edition.

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Oven-Roasted Shrimp with Garlic-Butter Zip Sauce
2 lbs of shell-on jumbo shrimp 16-20 per pound (Note: I halved this recipe in this pictorial)
1/4 cup of salt
3/4 stick of butter
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 handful of parsley leaves, minced
lemon wedges for garnish, optional

1. Dissolve salt in 1 quart of water in a large bowl. I've been lucky enough to find shrimp that are already deveined with the shell on, but if that isn't available we might need to cut through the shell and devein ourselves. Keeping the shell on is an important step to keeping the shrimp from drying out. Brine the shrimp in the salt water in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

2. Mix butter, garlic and minced parsley together with a fork in a small bowl (unless you already have this ready to go in the fridge, in which case you just need to bring it to room temperature).

3. Pre heat the oven to the low broil temperature setting, remove the shrimp from the brine and pat dry with paper towel.

4. Rub all the shrimp with the butter mixture. Be sure to get butter mixture between the shell and the shrimp.  Then place shrimp on a wire rack/baking sheet combo.

5. Broil shrimp 4 inches below the heating element on the first side for 2 to 4 minutes, rotating the baking sheet 180 degrees at the halfway point. Flip the shrimp over to the second side and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes, rotating again at the halfway point.

6. These shrimp go well with "smashed 'cauliflower' potatoes"and "roasted asparagus."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Salisbury Steak from Scratch

When the itch for comfort food strikes, this "scratch recipe" for Salisbury steak will provide the relief you're looking for without completely blowing your diet.  "Scratch" - "itch" - get it? Eh em. Oh well, I'm known for my cooking abilities not my jokes. Anyway, if you serve the Salisbury steak with "Smashed 'Cauliflower' Potatoes," instead of regular potatoes or egg noodles then this dinner is a guilt-free phase two (or three) South Beach Diet recipe. Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia Salisbury steak was invented by Dr. J. H. Salisbury (1823 - 1905) who was an early advocate for a low-carb diet for weight loss. If I make a batch of these before I leave town on a business trip my husband is very happy. Reheating leftovers in a skillet is something he loves to do, and this meal makes a great leftover skillet meal.

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Salisbury Steak from Scratch
2 large onions, sliced in thin 1/2 moon slices
3 tablespoons of butter, divided
1 large shallot
2 lbs. of ground beef
1/2 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons of milk (water or beef broth would for a dairy free option)
1 teaspoon of rubbed sage
1 beef bouillon or an equivalent
1 egg
2 1/2 cups of low-sodium beef broth
2 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
olive oil
garlic powder

1. Place 1/2 cup of Panko breadcrumbs in a small bowl, and add 4 tablespoons of milk and fluff the crumbs with a fork.

2. Mince the shallot (or a small amount of onion), melt one tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan and cook the shallot 3 to 4 minutes until softened.

3.  Add the sage, bouillon, and softened shallot to the crumbs.

4.  Incorporate all the spices into the breadcrumbs and set aside.

5. Lightly beat an egg in another small bowl.

6. Break up the ground beef into a larger bowl. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the beef and add the egg.

7. Gently mix all the ingredients with your hands being careful not to over mix, and loosely divide the mixture into 6 or 7 even sections.

11. Pat each section into an oval pattie, and sprinkle the patties with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

12. Slice onions into quarters. Then using a mandoline slice onions into thin 1/2 moons.

13. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of butter until bubbling, add the onions in a thin layer, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook the onions on a medium-low heat, tossing occasionally, until the onions are soft and caramelized.  When the onions are sufficiently caramelized to your taste set them aside in a bowl.

14. In the pan that just held the onions heat the olive oil until it is shimmering. Place the patties into the frying pan spice side down.  Sprinkle the top side of the patties with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sear for 7 minutes over medium heat.

13. Flip the patties and sear for another 5 minutes.

14. Add 2 1/2 cups of low-sodium beef broth and simmer the patties for 20 minutes over medium-low heat.  Cover the pan for the last five minutes.

15. Remove the patties from the broth and set aside, keeping the broth on a low simmer.

16. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to the simmering broth.

17. Add two heaping tablespoons of cornstarch to the onions and mix to coat the onions.

18. Add the coated onions to the simmering broth which will thicken the broth to gravy.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

18. Place the patties in the gravy and spoon the onion gravy over the patties.  Serve immediately or cover the pan and simmer on low until you're ready to serve.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fresh Fruit Platter for a Crowd

When recently volunteering to prepare fresh fruit for 50 people, at first I thought I would create  a couple of  extra large fruit salad bowls similar to my "Strawberry, Orange, and Grape Salad with Basil" post.  After doing some shopping and seeing what looked fresh, I decided that it would be better to have a fresh fruit platter.  My reasoning was that preparing a fruit platter would be huge time savings, and it would make for a great presentation.  Granted, there are plenty of ways to put together a fruit platter, and it will always depend on what is available.  However, I hope this post will serve as an inspiration for your fruit platter.

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Fresh Fruit Platter for a Crowd 
(double the following ingredients for two identical platters which is what I did to serve 50)
1 seedless watermelon
1 cantaloupe
1 quart of strawberries
1 quart of grapes
1 quart of pineapple
6 oranges

1. Wash everything.  I use a fruit and veggie wash even on the watermelon and cantaloupe. Cut the watermelon in half.

2. Cut the watermelon half in half to make a quarter. Cut the quarter in half again to make an eighth.

3. Cut the 1/8 piece into thin slices as pictured below and set aside.

4. Cut the cantaloupe in half.

5. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds from both halves.

6. Cut each melon half in half to make quarters.

7. Cut each quarter to make eighths.

8. Just like the watermelon cut each 1/8 piece into thin slices.

9. Cut off the ends of an orange.

10. Continue to make thin slices and cut them in half.

11. Start arranging the melons and oranges artfully on each corner of a large platter.

12. Cut pre-cored fresh pineapple into smaller bite-sized chunks.

13. After arranging strawberries in the fourth quarter of the platter add the pineapple to the middle. Using scissors cut grapes in small 3, 4, or 5 grape bunches which makes them easier for people to grab a small bunch.

15. Artfully arrange small bunches between both melon and orange slices.

NOTE: I recently went on vacation in Costa Rica, and the picture below was a fruit platter served to a small group of us for breakfast.  This fruit platter was fresh in my mind as I arranged the one above.


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