Monthly Archives: August 2012

Shrimp Piccata and Tapa’s night for August.


We had our monthly Tapa’s Night this past Saturday, and as usual had fun as well as enjoyed some great food.
I made a Shrimp Piccata as my contribution this month, as well as putting out a couple other items.

And I will share the recipe a little later.   I’m kicking myself I didn’t get pictures of the awesome Pineapple Surprise cake or the Carrot cake that was brought, but hey, it’s my party and I can have fun if I want to, and forget to take pictures sometimes.

So here goes:

Zucchini Bake

This dish was so light and flavourful, so good.

The Spanish Omelette was really good as well, and I didn’t get a picture of the Sofrito sauce that was to be served with it.      I thought the omelette was pretty just on its own.

Spanish Omelette
And doesn’t this Charcuterie platter look pretty.   It also had some awesome smoked salmon in the center, you can sort of see them in between the crackers.
Charcuterie platter
Smoked Grouper Cheeks, Smoked Amberjack and Quail Eggs. It has been years since I’ve had quail eggs so seeing them and eating them well, I was a very happy person.    Danes also love smoked fish, well, many of us do, so to have some smoked fish, well, I was in heaven.  I kept heading over to the platter and snatching a bite or two.
I could just envision them with a nice slice of fresh french bread and a glass or two of Akvavit, with a beer chaser. sigh.   Sorry, got side tracked there.
Sliced lunch meats
Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

There were some stuffed Cherry tomatoes, and they were so tasty as well.   I was in awe that someone sat and did this, but don’t they look pretty?

Smoked Fish, Ciabatta Rolls and dipping oil
Kugel

I love Kugel, and helped myself to a generous spoonful, I tend to eat this whenever I see it.
Another friend brought these large beans and told me this is common dish served in Greek taverns, and it was delicious as well.

Greek Taverna Beans

We also had some great dark fudge, which made some of us very happy.

Filled crescent rolls

And these little rolls, with a filling.  I’m such a sucker for, and really enjoyed the one I had.

So now for my contribution.
I had a heck of a time trying to figure out what I wanted to make this month.   I knew it should be something with shrimp, I’ve been craving shrimp lately, but what to do with it?    It wasn’t until I was driving into town to get the shrimp that I finally decided.   What a relief.   I had thought of making Shrimp Scampi, but dismissed that idea.   Then it dawned on me, Shrimp Picatta!  I love Chicken Picatta and make it on a regular basis, and the combination of lemon, butter, capers and shrimp just seemed like it would work.    So I bought three pounds of fresh shrimp, some lemons and went home.

I prepared the shrimp by shelling and de-heading them, and went to make up a nice boil to poach them in.  Realized that I didn’t have any Old Bay seasoning, but I didn’t let that stop me.  Not much stops me anyways, when it comes to cooking something.    While I was preparing the boil, I dumped some ice on top of the shrimp to keep them cold.   (I use a fair amount of disposable aluminum baking pans, you can buy them at Sam’s Club for about $7 for 30 of them.  I use them to cook my dog’s food and to serve them their food, less clean up for me.   And if I use a pan for shrimp, like I did here, I just wash it and use it for the dogs,   I do wash and re-use the pans as much as possible as well, until they break down)

I got out a pot and put some plain water in it, then added some cayenne pepper, a couple of cloves of crushed and roughly chopped garlic, a bottle of beer, a bay leaf and some lemon juice.  Brought it to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes so that the flavours would infuse together.   Tasted it and it was bland, so I added a small handful of lightly crushed peppercorns and a little salt, maybe a half teaspoonful, and some more lemon.   Let that come to a boil and tasted it again.  This time it had flavour.
While it was boiling I got a bowl out and put some ice into it, because after poaching the shrimp for a couple of minutes, I wanted to dump the shrimp into some ice water to stop the cooking process.   Nothing worse than a chewy over cooked shrimp.

You can see the bowl behind the pot of water.

I them dumped the shrimp into the boiling liquid, turned down the heat a little, let the shrimp turn pink and removed them with a slotted spoon and placed them on ice.   Very important to not over cook shrimp, they turn tough and rubbery.   You want them to ‘pop’ a little when you bite into them.   Only cook them for a minute or two.

Since my guests weren’t expected for another hour or so, I just quick cooled the shrimp, by tossing them with the ice,  then placed them into the fridge so I could finish them off later.   Oh and by the way, I did devein them as well after they cooled down.  (Note to self, next time, you need a lot more shrimp than you realize when you have to prepare them this way,   I may just buy them already deviened and shelled the next time.)

Before the guests arrived I made the sauce I wanted to reheat the shrimp in.    I melted one stick of butter in the pan, added a couple of cloves of minced garlic, a half cup of white wine, juice of one lemon and about 2 tablespoons of capers.  Also added a half a lemon in slices.   Let that simmer for a couple of minutes, tasted it and added another half cup of wine and more butter.   And it was good.

I then placed the shrimp in the butter sauce and let it warm over low heat until the shrimp were warmed through before I served it.   And it was popular.   I even caught a person dipping some of the slice Ciabatta rolls in the sauce and eating that.  OK, so it was me dipping the bread, but hey, the sauce was that good.  And there weren’t any shrimp left anyway.

Here’s the recipe for the boil and the Picatta Sauce

Boil
1 quart water
1 bottle beer
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
Juice from one lemon
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired.

Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes so that the spices can infuse into the water, taste and adjust the seasonings.   This will taste spicy, but it really doesn’t make the shrimp all that spicy, just adds a nice kick.    You can also use this spice mixture for a peel and eat shrimp boil.   Add the shrimp and let it come to a boil, but only cook the shrimp for a minute or two,  they just need to turn pink.

Piccata Sauce *

12 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white wine plus 1/2 cup white wine **
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons capers
2 minced garlic cloves
6 lemon slices

Simmer all of this together until the wine reduces by half, then add another half cup white wine, let that reduce a little, add the shrimp and stir it together until the shrimp warms through.   You don’t need to cook the shrimp, just warm it up in the sauce.   Serve immediately.

*I would serve this with a nice basmati rice or short grain rice or some bow tie pasta for a meal.  And you can use the sauce for chicken as well.  Nothing like a multi purpose sauce. giggle.
** You can substitute chicken stock here as well, the wine adds a nice note of flavour however.   And if you use chicken stock, use the low sodium.

Judging by how quickly the shrimp disappeared, I would say people liked this.

And I also served some sliced Ciabatta Rolls with some dipping oil and some sliced lunch meat, for those who wanted something more.

As usual, we had a great time, and got to try some good food as well.

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Savoury Cheesecake


Our Boat Club potluck was last week, and Karen brought this really neat dish, and even better she gave me  the recipe and I want to share it here.   By the way, this went fast at our gathering. Very tasty.  I also want to say that Karen comes up with some really cool dishes and luckily for me, she shares, recipes that is.   Here’s the link to the original post at Spinach Tiger.

Savoury Cheesecake

1 bag, 7 oz. Kettle Chips, crushed
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 pound full fat cream cheese  (2- 8 ounce packages)  at room temperature.
1/3 Cup Sour Cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Sea Salt and White Pepper  (no measurements given, so would use 1/4 teaspoon of each)
4 eggs

Extra chives for decorating
Sour Cream for decorating, optional

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.   One ten inch Springform pan*

Crush the potato chips up using either a rolling-pin, food processor or my favorite, put the chips in a ziploc bag and smack with your hand to make smaller chips.
Add one of the tablespoons of butter to the crushed chips and press into a springform pan, bake for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Melt the other tablespoon of butter in a small pan, add the spring onions, cook for just a minute or so to soften, but don’t brown them.  Set aside.

Whip the softened cream cheese, then add the seasonings and Sour Cream, whip until smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time, whip until smooth and at the end add in the chopped chives.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes.   Then turn the heat down to 250 degrees and continue baking for another 20 to 25 minutes or until set.   The cheesecake should be a little jiggly.

Turn oven off, and open door and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
You can serve this warm with some crackers or toast, or go ahead and refrigerate but bring to room temperature before serving.

* If using two 6 inch springform pans, bake at 475 for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 250 and bake an extra 10 to 15 minutes.

It’s fun to decorate the top with some chives before baking, and you can also serve it with some sour cream spread over the top with more chopped chives and spring onions, or more of the crushed potato chips.
It would also be fun to find some Sour Cream and Onion chips to use as the crust.   But you do need the heavier weight Kettle Chips for this recipe.  The others are just too flimsy and break down too much.

Brunsviger


It’s that time of year again and while I’ve been going back and forth on the idea, I decided I would go ahead and make a birthday cake anyway.   And it’s been a long, long time since I’ve made a Brunsviger, so here goes.

Last year I made a Danish Layer Cake cause I could and while it was very good, I wanted something a little different this time.

Now for the Brunsviger.    When I was little Mom would make this for my sister and myself, and sometimes she’d make it in the shape of a Kagemand/kone (cakeman or woman), and the topping would run over the sides and make wonderful little toffee puddles and they were so good.   And it would generally make a mess in the oven as well.   But, hey, when you’re a kid, who cares.   All I cared about was getting the topping, giggle.

Here’s how it’s saved in my personal cookbook.  The Danish is to the left and the English translation to the right.   This is the recipe my mom used and I use.   The basic recipe is the same no matter where you look.   A light yeast dough, with a sugar butter topping, basically yummy.

*** Please see my notes at the end.

Brunsviger

500 gr. Mel                                                                 4 Cups minus 2 Tablespoons Flour

200 g. Margarine                                                      14 Tablespoons Butter

2 aeg                                                                                  2 eggs

30 g. Yeast                                                                  1 package Dry Yeast (1/4 oz.)

4 T. Sukker                                                                  4 Tablespoon Sugar

2 dl. lunkne Maelk                                                     3/4 cup lukewarm milk

Cinnamon Topping

 200 g. margarine                                           14 Tablespoons Butter  (1 stick + 6 Tbsp)    200 g. Brown Sugar                                                 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar

2 T. Cinnamon                                                           2 Tablespoon Cinnamon

 Margarine hakkes I mel, aeggene tilsaettes sammen med sukkeret, gaeren smuldres I dejen ell oplose I lidt af den lunkne maelk, og dejen samles med resten a maelken, Dejen aeltes godt, rulles ud till en store plade, der skoeres ud til en stor kagemand eller kone, some laeges pa en smurt plade. Kanelmassen rores sammen, smores over dejen, og haever lunt I 20-25 minutter, bager ved god varme 225 deg, I 20 minutter.

Cut butter into the flour, and add egg along with the sugar. Soften yeast in a little of the lukewarm milk, and add to the dough with the rest of the milk.

Knead dough well and roll out into a large sheet and cut it into either a cakeman or cake woman and place on large greased cookie sheet. Mix cinnamon mixture together and spread over the dough. Place in warm place to rise for about 20-25 minutes, bake for about 20-25 minutes in a 325 degree oven.

Or place dough in a large pan, spread cinnamon mixture over it and then using the end of a wooden spoon poke holes down into the dough and let rise for the 20 minutes or so and then bake for 20-25 minutes in 325 deg. oven. Serve warm or cool.  Although this is best warm.  In fact fresh out of the oven is best.

***Now for my notes on this.   I find that when I make this dough, it’s too soft to roll out, so I spread it into the pan.  I use my mixmaster to knead the dough.   And depending on the humidity and how your flour is I would recommend you sift the flour first.   I actually made two batches the other day, since I was going to do my cooking stint at the Senior’s center I took most of it in there with me.  Just left myself a couple of pieces.   This does dry out real fast, so I would recommend eating right away, but the occasional piece heated up for breakfast is good as well.

And if you have a kitchen scale, use that.   I have one and use it all the time especially when I’m baking something from my Danish cookbooks.  I just put a piece of plastic wrap in the tray and that way I don’t have to wash it in between ingredients.  (that’s the purple thing you see).

And I’ve said before that if I screw up, I’ll you know.  And it’s with a red face, sorta, that I have to admit to making the first Brunsviger, and forgetting the eggs.  Oops.   I was sailing along, taking pictures of the process, having a great time doing so.  Got the Brunsviger out of the oven, made a fresh pot of coffee, set my cup and a slice or two of Brunsviger on the table, and took a bite.

Then I took some pictures.  Now the cake was awfully light, but I thought that was because I’d run out of flour and had to substitute a half cup of self rising flour, but it tasted good.   So I took my pictures, finished off the cake, turned around and there were two eggs sitting on the counter.   I had totally missed putting them into the batter.  But you know what, it still tasted good.   So I made a second batch after I’d been to the store and gotten more flour, and the second one tasted great as well.  I made sure there were eggs in that batch.   The only real difference between the two was that the crumb on the first one was  extremely tender, and a little crumbly.

Sushi, California Rolls


I was asked for this recipe the other day.   Apparently some people really liked it when I made it and served it at a couple of different parties.     Oh, I’m talking about Sushi.   At least the kind of Sushi that’s for the not so adventuresome among us.   Which would be me.   I’m leery of raw fish, unless I’m the one who’s working with it.  Which is why California Rolls are perfect for me.

It also doesn’t hurt that I like Avocado, Crab and Rice either.   Or that I like trying to make new recipes all the time, and Sushi or rather California Rolls are one of my favorites.

The Cast of Characters:

Most of the characters, at least the basic cast, without the extras.

A couple of tricks first.   Rinse the rice before cooking it, it seems to help it develop the sticky factor you need.   And do not stir the rice after adding the rice vinegar/sugar mixture.   Cut and fold it as if you were adding flour to egg whites, you don’t want to mash the rice, just make sure the rice vinegar is incorporated into the rice.   Use the bamboo paddle and make sure that the shallow bowl you put the cooked rice in is big enough that you can do the cut and fold without doing a ‘rice mash’.  It’s best to do this while the rice is still warm as it absorbs the vinegar best this way.

Toast the sesame seeds while waiting for the rice to cool enough to work with.  Set them aside.
Grate some carrots, and make some pickled carrots to serve with the sushi or put some into the sushi.
I did a fine grate and added some rice vinegar and a little freshly grated ginger.    Not very much, just enough to taste.    Set those aside.    Open a can of crab or get your fresh crab out and rinse and make sure there aren’t any nasty pieces of shells in there.   You don’t want to cut the avocado until you are ready to start rolling.   They tend to turn a nasty shade of brown.

First off, place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the bamboo rolling mat.   You’re going to sprinkle some sesame seeds down first and they tend to fall through the mat otherwise, and the rice grains get stuck there as well, and that makes the mat hard to clean.  Trust me on this, they are not easy to get out.   Really.

Then put a thin layer of rice on top.   Pat it down with your wet hand.

If you notice there is a bowl of water to the right of the bamboo mat, this is very important, you need to keep your hand wet, otherwise the rice sticks to everything.
Next add a sheet of Nori,

Then add your fillings, some avocado and some crab:

Roll it up using your sheet of plastic wrap.
Shape it a little so it’s nice and round and place in the refrigerator.

Take out a little later and slice.
Continue using the rest of the rice and Nori.   I alternated by putting a sheet of Nori down first, placing a thin layer of rice on that with the fillings and then rolling those up.  (I did say I forgot to take pictures, I was on a roll, did you get it?, on a roll?, umm, never mind. )
Here’s a picture of the finished platter with the wasabi, carrots and sesame seeds to go with them.  You also need some soy sauce for dipping.

California Rolls

4 cups cooked sushi rice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Mix the vinegar and sugar together until the sugar dissolves and sprinkle over the rice, folding it over itself, so you don’t mash it.  This should be mixed together while still warm.    Set aside to cool.
1 avocado cut in strips
1 can crab or sushimi or whatever you like
3 small carrots, shredded and dressed with rice vinegar and fresh ginger
2-4 spring onions
thin strips cucumber if you like, I didn’t but that’s because so many people I know can’t tolerate cukes.
toasted sesame seeds or
black sesame seeds

Layer the rice on the nori, place a couple of pieces of avocado and some crab on there, roll it up and place in the fridge in some plastic wrap.   Continue with a roll with some spring onions and carrots, or whatever you like inside.
Slice thinly, each roll will makes about 8 slices, and serve with some wasabi, soy sauce, sesame seeds and carrots.